It is true, each of us stands on the shoulders of previous generations. However, in spite of what some in leadership have said, there comes that time ... within our own generation ... when each of us must do our part. And that is exactly what hard-working Americans have done. It is unthinkable that there are those in high levels of government who are dismissive of individual work, production, competition, and profit. In fact, there is nothing obscene about making a fair profit.
It is time that those in government restore the greatness of America ... from the past several years of disillusionment ... by reawaking the great American giant of individualism and tapping into the greatness of individual exceptionalism. What is needed now is to restore our American economy by reawaking our spirit of American Exceptionalism with and through a rebirth of ingenuity in the individual. Growth and prosperity is desperately needed in our American economy. A way to gear up the powerful engine of growth and prosperity, is through the encouragement of the individual to become all of which he or she is capable of being. Clearly, we should not attack success, we should celebrate it.
Indeed, what is required now is an initiative in expertness in individual leadership. Each can be a leader in her or his own right. We cannot let a mentality of "victim identity" rule the day. We are not victims of an unfair system, rather, we are builders of a system with "the right" to entrepreneurship and opportunity. The success of America was built on opportunity for individual initiative, hard work, and progress in growth. Whether we own a business, work as an individual for others, start a small business on the side, or champion a cause about which we feel deeply, it is ours to cherish and nurture. We all have an ability to assume responsibility in the free market system and we must maintain our right to tap into our innate entrepreneurial spirit.
We suggest that each individual help oneself and others to become resourceful. It was Alan Loy McGinnis who said "There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being to help that person succeed." We cannot help but agree wholeheartedly.
Along with tapping into our individual entrepreneurial spirit, we must look for ways to make ourselves more creative and resourceful. Unfortunately, there are those who wait for someone else to take care of things for them. That may very well be why more than 50 percent of Americans receive some form of pubic assistance. For those really in need, this is right and proper. And, then there are others, who receive this outside help, where this assistance may soon becomes debilitating to the person. Often, unfortunately, this assistance causes the receiver to undervalue the potential which richly resides within the individual. It was President John F. Kennedy who said so eloquently, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
You know, America initially prospered because Americans had to be resourceful; they had to find a way, no matter what. Ask some of the old time farmers, factory workers, business persons, teachers, construction workers, clerical personnel, and others. They knew that the rite of passage came from hard work, even at times of failure, to "pick up one's tools" and try again. Unfortunately now, some of this American resourcefulness has begun to fade. Nowadays, with so many things so easily available with government help, in exchange for a little more of the individual's freedom, individual initiative has begun to dim. Note: the Government cannot continue to spend $4 trillion annually while taking in $2 trillion annually ... with that formula in place, we are headed for an economic train wreck of major proportion.
We must begin again, to celebrate the individual. Americans used to be called "rugged individualists." We need to find a way to restore faith in ourselves and resolve to try again. We must accept responsibility for our actions and results, and teach others to do the same. In fact, if we truly want to be in control of our own destiny, we must take responsibility for it. Celebrate the individual? You bet,
You know, every individual wants deep down, to be successful and to find fulfillment in self actualization ... to become all one is capable of becoming. We need to seek out the lessons learned by trying and to learn from our failings. Everyone of us have seen success and failure. But out of the lessons learned from failure, the solid foundation of success is built. For you see, it is in failing that we often grow and learn the most. And that, too, is the right of passage for an individual in a free society.
Individualism regards the person as an independent, sovereign entity. Also, individualism holds that a civilized society can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights - and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members. And with that right, goes the right to hold property and to be of service to others. So true it is, individuals and their right to property and service are the keys to American economic growth. It was Albert Einstein who said, " The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule." And most assuredly, we cannot say it any better than that. And that is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis. All of the past columns can be viewed on Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com