John Brock: Americans need to be more content and thankful for blessings
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I am firmly convinced that one of the problems with most Americans today is that we have too much stuff. Although we are presently going through some rough economic times, we still don't have to work very hard to get things in contrast to previous generations. And if we do fall short, there are multiple government programs to get us through it. These multiple relief programs were not available to our grandparents.
Most of us alive today did not experience the sacrifices of the 1930s depression era and World War II. Those who did appear to be more content with American life today. Not nearly as much sacrifice is necessary now. As a result, I believe many Americans are not appropriately appreciative of what we enjoy.
It seems entirely appropriate that we reflect on our many blessings. I acknowledge the discontent of those who can find nothing but the bad in American life. Like all human endeavors, there is imperfection but in no place on earth do citizens enjoy the multitude of blessings Americans wake up to each morning. Otherwise, millions of people from around the globe would not be trying desperately to come here — legally or illegally.
Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than any other citizen of this world. We are blessed with individual freedoms unheard of in the annals of mankind. We are endowed with a Free Enterprise economic system that makes it possible for folks from modest birth to rise to economic success. I ponder why there is so much discontent among so many Americans.
As I said, we ain't perfect but life in America is the best thing going in this world.
The simple truth is that individual Americans have opportunities, if they are willing to take advantage of them, to rise to whatever level they qualify themselves for. Or course, this requires hard work, education, dedication and a level of perseverance that some folks seem to lack. Yet, they often complain the loudest about lack of opportunities.
Add this unwillingness to play by the rules to the modern lazy streak found in many Americans today, and it becomes apparent that some folks are just unwilling to take advantage of opportunities that lay before them.
Our form of government does not guarantee us “Happiness” — only the right to “Pursue Happiness.” No one is assured of finding bliss but we have the right to try. Most times when we don't find it, it's our own fault and not someone else's.
In recent generations, Government has lulled us with the notion that ALL people deserve the best — even when they are unwilling to work for it. Too many politicians instruct us that everything should be easy; that equal opportunity results in equal results — regardless of individual effort. Intelligent folks know that it doesn't work that way. Those who work smarter, harder and are willing to take risks have more than those who don't. But, some insist that all, or most, wealth should be equally divided in order that economic equality is achieved — regardless of individual effort. That's what the progressive and alternative income tax is all about.
For various reasons, some of our fellow Americans cannot provide adequately for themselves. In this case, we have a moral responsibility to help them. It's our individual responsibility and not government's. Those who fail to meet their moral obligations for those in need should be shunned by responsible Americans who do.
The bottom line, I fear, is that Americans, on the whole, already have too much stuff and don't want to share. They had rather force others to do so via taxation, etc.
If you don't believe that most of us have too much, just take a short drive around the perimeter of your community and observe the multitude of storage garages for rent. These mini-warehouses are available to cram stuff into that we no longer want and probably didn't need in the first place. Every so often, some are cleared out and replenished with more stuff that will eventually be thrown away. I expect at any time to observe a hearse on the way to the graveyard with a U-Haul trailer hooked behind.
Some folks are born with less natural abilities than others. This makes it more difficult for them to achieve success. But, we need to work with whatever hand we are dealt. I have experienced personal encounters with this. It took effort, but I overcame both dyslexia and polio. It wasn't always easy and there were times I felt sorry for myself but thanks to supportive family and friends, I was eventually able to play college football; serve in the US Army during the Korean Era; become the youngest newspaper editor in America; go to graduate school; and later serve as a college Professor/University officer.
I thought for the first few years of my life that I was just stupid because I could not learn the alphabet; read very well or keep from transposing letters and numerals. I faced the same challenges a few years later when I had trouble making my body perform as the result of Infantile Paralysis. I could have given up. But I didn't. Others can do the same. We need to always encourage those who fall behind.
At the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves and we should be thankful that opportunities exist for each of us to find success in our own way.
Americans are a blessed people. We need to start giving thanks for things we do enjoy and quit griping about things we don't have — but think we “deserve.”
John Brock is a retired professor and newspaper editor/publisher who lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper or via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.