What Built America – Opportunity

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Imagine living in a country and then deciding to leave it for a new one. What would motivate a person to travel for weeks by horse and then sea—thousands of miles—to a land they had never been to, never seen a picture of, but merely heard stories about? What was in our ancestors’ vision of this new land called America that gave up all they knew to come to it?

I imagine one part is it was… A land of opportunity, personal opportunity.

You could begin your own business in a city. Worship your God without religious structure and dogma. Farm open land out west in the plains and raise a family. You could head even further west to seek gold and fortune. There were as many dreams as there were dreamers.

I am beginning a series on TFM called “WHAT BUILT AMERICA.” I want to explore the values of the past in hopes it will inspire all of us to rediscover and apply them for today.

While many people immigrated to America seeking opportunity, the majority didn’t leave. They stayed in Europe. They continued living under the political and religious systems that persecuted them and limited their freedoms. How is it going for their descendants? Well, no need for much commentary there.

It was America where those who thought they had a better opportunity were heading to leave the old behind… for religious, political, and financial opportunity. It was the spirit of these folks that formed a new government and new way of living. They based this life on freedom and liberty of course, but even more so on that simple, perfect line Thomas Jefferson wrote into the Declaration of Independence: the pursuit of happiness.

Listening to Obama address Congress the other day, I thought of those people. He was talking about a “fair chance” for folks, rhetoric about the middle class losing its place in our country. He laid out his vision of how he will level the playing field, create fair rules and regulations, provide government assistance, start new programs, re-distribute the fair share, and more taxation to certain privileged classes to make things better for average folks.

Summed up: “The government will help create this opportunity for you.”

When did we turn from a country that relied on our own personal efforts to one that relied on our government for this help? Our ancestors had no safety nets. There were few rules. There was no healthcare plan. Retirement? Sorry. And they weren’t waiting on speeches from politicians. They were creating it as they went.

You could die in the Rockies passing through to California from an early winter storm. You might fail at your business and have no food for your family. While these and many other risks abounded, the opportunity for freedom and personal reward trumped the dangers. Over and over people chose freedom and risk with this personal initiative for themselves and their family. They were flocking to their own chance. They had seen what a government could do to personal freedoms. They were escaping it.

I think it’s human nature to fall into the trap of seeking comfort over finding courage. Safety trumps risk. Handouts and assistance often seem preferable over any personal initiatives. But as humans, and as men, it is our job to realize that our Nation, our communities, and our families must see that is not the best path. The life we want has to be fought for.

When the government is put in the position to bring fairness, it also gives it all kinds of control. Once they have that power, that control can move in many directions. As a society, we risk falling into the trap of becoming dependent on those entitlements.

If no one votes for the hard choices anymore, preferring to take the easy way out, then our democracy may crumble before us. The motivated citizens are replaced with people who want fairness because they lack the motivation to level the playing field on their own.

We need to get back to seeking personal opportunity. That is what America is about. We stand on the shoulders of the men of our past who lived true to this ideal. Your great great someone and mine.

Personal initiative is part of what built America. The freedom to create and build and grow and explore without much interference is what made it great. I think what strengthened the resolve of our ancestors to launch out on their own, was accepting that life was hard and not always fair. They believed that courage was a greater goal than handouts and comforts. They were willing to accept the arduous task of working hard. It wasn’t a guarantee or an entitlement, it was a choice that they made to seek it.

This is how many of the folks who came to America began. We need to go out and kick ass to show it’s still true. So, let’s seek a life of personal freedoms and opportunity by living that out today. It is one aspect of the dream that built America. What can sustain it? The hard work of dreamers like you and me.

By guest columnist Xan Hood, CEO/Founder of Buffalo & Company / Buffalo Jackson



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  1. 1

    I want to fucking throw up everytime Obama opens up his fucking mouth about “their fair share.” Last I checked, my Grandpa never made over $30k in his lifetime… My Dad grew up in a house he had to share in Chicago with 3 other families in his early days and started working when he was 12 on top of going to school. Didn’t cry about any government hand outs, he sucked it up like a fucking adult, worked hard, and was able to retire when he was 45 and can do whatever he wants. Did he take any money from any of these idiot liberals? No. The best thing that could happen to this nation is Air Force One crashing to the ground with Obama and his fat fucking wife on board.

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 5 years ago
    • -3

      FuturestradeCME – Similar story for my family except one generation further back. My great grandfather had 12 children who all lived in a small shack in middle Tennessee. My grandfather had an 8th grade education but fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He took a job at 19 as a merchant marine, working 20 hours a day in the engine room. He would be gone for 6 months at a time, traveling around the world, not being able to spend much time with my father. When he was home, he never wore anything but his work suit around and people would look down on him until they realized he made bank. Due to his hard work, he was able to send my father to law school, who was able to provide me the opportunities I’ve had in my life. It makes me sick when black people or those of a lower social class say that they are stuck in their position. They claim they are stuck when they aren’t even doing the work necessary to get themselves out of the bad position they’re in. The crap that Obama is doing is just furthering this atrocious mindset that, unfortunately, many Americans have today.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 5 years ago
  2. 0
    frat blunts

    “They continued living under the political and religious systems that persecuted them and limited their freedoms.”

    Sounds like the far right…

    ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 5 years ago
    • -4
      high kapp

      Yea, you stupid liberal pothead geed. Have fun when your government regulations take away your weed so you’re actually productive.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 5 years ago
    • -5
      Brobert F Kennedy

      I assume he’s talking about people who hold their values to be superior to those of others and want to legislate morality. However the “Far Right” are monarchists, aristocrats, and fascists and the Far Left are communists and anarchists. Republicans believe that there is no divine right of kings, no true religion, or the infallibility of appeals to authority. The Republic is the state of affairs in which men gain what is earned and nothing more. Where all men are equal in their humanity and prove their worth by their words and their deeds. Where ultimately right and wrong is judged by their creator, not by their master. Where innocence is presumed and guilt must be absolute. The Far Right exists because the Republic protects their right to exist and the Far Left exists because the Constitution protects them too. Though they are dangerous they are tolerated because our freedom is worth more than our material wealth. Men and women have died so that they can be full of avarice and misguided spite.

      ^ ThisTake a lapLog in or sign up to reply. • 5 years ago

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