As an immigrant who has lived in this country for over forty years,the Fourth of July has invariably been a time for me to look back and reflect on the freedoms and opportunities I enjoy as an American. I know that many of us in our daily lives, often take these freedoms for granted. Independence Day is the perfect time, regardless of current economic and financial conditions, to acknowledge our blessings and to give thanks for the abundance of life that we Americans, on a whole, enjoy.
I was reminded, as I listened to a recent news story, that in many developing countries, a large proportion of its citizens live on under $1 or $2 per day. They also face high mortality rates, rampant diseases with little access to electricity, water and sanitation. Yet the US media continues to tell us Americans how bad off we are and we, often against our better judgment, buy into feelings of poverty, lack and financial despair. On this Independence Day would any of us be willing to trade our lifestyle for the person subsisting on that $2.00 a day budget?
It is difficult to ignore the fact that many of our citizens are either unemployed or underemployed. This 4th of July some cities have scaled back on fireworks display and many families have made the choice to stay closer to home this year rather than contend with the price of gas, hotel accommodations and the inconveniences of air travel.
As we consider this most recent economic downturn let us reflect on some of the American ingenuity that has helped to make this country great with far reaching and worldwide impact. Even in the face of current economic setbacks America’s ingenuity continues to unfold. Here are some past and present accomplishments fueled by American ingenuity.
- The first airplane flight (Wilbur Wright);
- The first artificial heart transplant (designed by Robert Jarvik);
- The first billionaire (John D. Rockefeller) – and today America boast around 400 billionaires;
- The first iPod; (Apple)
- The first lunar landing (Neil Armstrong)
- The world’s largest corporation (Wal-Mart Stores)
- Country with the most millionaire households (8.4 million in 2010) - (CNN & the longest list)
Let us be assured that despite economic setbacks of the past and present, there are those among us who have always found a way to turn adversity into success. I daresay that listening to and buying into the conversations of the “talking heads” are not high on the agenda of those whose goal it is to succeed despite the recession.
Let us remember the Spirit of Achievement, Promise and Possibility on which this country was founded. Let us see this country through the eyes of immigrants who flock to our shores with the certainty that their lives will be better here than any place else.
According to Wikipedia, since 1790, there has been as many as 47 recessions, of various duration and intensity, in the US. What that means is that there hasn’t been a decade in the last two hundred years that we have not faced economic concerns of some degree or other. Yet, throughout those times, Americans continued to thrive and increase their economic holdings.
This current crisis must not cause us to lose hope in our ability to bounce back economically. A loss of hope means that we tighten our belts and spend less which means businesses sell less, manufacturers produce less, companies then feel forced to downsize, laying off our friends and relatives. They then shut down or move their companies from our communities which continues the vicious cycle of economic loss and familial despair.
Let’s take a long range view and look behind us at our accomplishments and our past ability to withstand economic recessions and depressions. Let us now look at our current situation and then look forward as we work with resiliency and purpose to bounce back. Let us believe again in the promise of America and what it still stands for: ingenuity, initiative and an inspiration to those still seeking the dream of the good life. Let this be the day that you recover your Spirit of Independence.