06/28/08 — Seize the dream: Making it in America starts with a will to succeed

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Seize the dream: Making it in America starts with a will to succeed

Lots of people talk about the American Dream as if it is somehow an outdated notion that has long since been replaced by opportunity that is only available to a select few.

They bemoan the outside forces that they say conspire to prevent anyone from changing his or her lot in life and look at the future as predetermined and without potential.

That’s why this nation needs change, some politicians chant every year. The American Dream is closed to the millions of Americans not lucky enough to be born into wealth or privilege.

That statement alone proves that they do not understand the real meaning of the words.

The question is, do we?

The American Dream is based on the principle that anyone who is determined to succeed can do so with hard work, ingenuity and determination. It is not predicated on money or position in life — and there are no low-end limits on what it will take to achieve it. You can start with nothing and reach any dream you want to try to tackle — all you have to do is make the first move toward it.

The problem today is that there just aren’t that many people who seem to understand the processor who have what it takes to get to where they want to be.

So, for those who still think there is no hope for anyone who wants to make it in America, here’s a guide:

This country offers a free public education to anyone who wants it — complete with access to libraries and in almost every case — computers. There are afterschool tutors, afterschool groups and outside school activities that are designed to give a child a chance to secure even more knowledge — or to get the help he or she needs to improve a skill.

That is the first step toward the American Dream. No one can force you to take advantage of an education or the books just waiting to be discovered in your library. It’s your responsibility to demand every bit of knowledge you can secure.

There are jobs in this country for people who want to work. They are not all glamorous and it will take time to save money to grow a nest egg that will allow you to buy a basic car or a modest home, but you can learn something about how to succeed along the way. Success breeds success. Start small and work hard and you will get promotions, new opportunities and the chance to earn more. That’s how you make it — one step at a time. There are millions of Americans who started small and later grew a business of their own because of the principles they learned on the job. There is no job that can’t teach you something about building a future.

Don’t expect to get everything right away — or to walk out into the world of work and to live like those who have already paid their dues. You have to struggle sometimes as you are building your life. Learn to sacrifice and to make priorities. A future later is much better than an expensive purchase now.

Learn determination. Don’t let anyone coddle you or tell you that your dream isn’t worth fighting for. Suck up every opportunity to improve and grow and to put in the hard work it takes to build your life to where you want it. Don’t wait for someone to hand you a chance or a start — fight until you get it. The American Dream has to be seized — not presented by a government, a politician or a handout.

The American Dream is not dead, but it is not a birthright.

And until some Americans — and their leaders — understand that, there will be fewer and fewer people who benefit from its pursuit and the possibilities it offers.

And that is the true tragedy in today’s America.

Published in Editorials on June 28, 2008 11:53 PM