Bad news travels fast! In our “just in time” world, with all-the-time news channels highlighting terrible events caused by so few, it’s easy to feel like the American Dream isn’t alive. But while we may think things are bad today, let’s pause and consider the challenges our founding leaders faced.
This July 4th holiday, as we reflect on what the America Dream means to the majority of our fellow citizens, we can see this dream continues to inspire leaders to step forward and answer the call.
Defining the American Dream
When developing a strategic plan, it’s beneficial to do an assessment of the past. This process provides additional insight into why choices were made and helps us better understand how we got to where we are. Just like the companies we work for, change is reality and there are tipping points that create defining moments in our history. A series of events created the tipping point for the United States to be founded, so this American tale starts with our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.
The declaration clearly states the foundation of our country as this fundamental idea: “All men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. Legitimate governments must therefore be based on the consent of the governed and must exist to secure these rights.”
The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” with the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
- Source: Wikipedia
Fiercely independent. United in purpose
The unanimous decision of the 13 American colonies, simply stated in the declaration, can be summed up as, “Enough is enough and America is independent”. The uniqueness in the statement the American colonies were making was not based on an individual or an elite group of individuals forcing their will upon others, but rather it was, and continues to be, the declaration of the political legitimacy in the importance of individuals. The revolutionary tone contained by our founders that continues today is to protect the rights that inherently exist in all men and women.
These rights are found in eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” As such, the declaration’s meaning transcends the particulars of time and circumstances.
- Source: The Heritage Foundation
More than a dream
Regardless of our heritage, race, religion, social standing or where we work reflects on the blessings we enjoy because of the legacy provided by so many who answered the honor call. We honor those that have gone before us by working hard to make things better for our families.
Putting these efforts together make our country and the world better. Even when times are tough, the American giving spirit shows through as individuals and organizations respond to disasters at home and around the world. Like our founding fathers, who were not focused on their individual prosperity, Americans are willing to put their life and families in harm’s way so others can experience, a government by the people, for the people.
Challenge inspires leaders
Even with the challenges we face, one doesn’t have to look very far to see that the American Dream is alive and well. But it is equally clear that we face challenges in mentoring a new breed of leaders prepared for the rapid changes in the world. These leaders must be willing to serve, embrace change and, like our forefathers, hold themselves accountable to a high set of ethics and standards. Individual leaders that rise to the honor call have and always will create ripples that are not bound by circumstances or time. Thus, like our forefathers and our sacrifices will continue to echo through history.
Light shines through
Within our families, communities, schools and jobs, we can achieve the unimaginable by maintaining our heritage of being fiercely independence while pulling together for a common purpose. This Independence Day, I encourage Americans to acknowledge the many opportunities that continue to exist in our country. For those of us that continue to believe in the American Dream, we must seek ways to heal our great nation. It’s up to us to encourage leaders to rise to the challenge to lead our country and its citizens boldly into the future. If each of us does our part, the America Dream can shine brightly for all to see!