The American Dream. Milk and honey. Bold and free. Opportunity. Independence.
I’ve lived in the United States for 5 years. That equates to just less than 10% of my life to date, spent living and traveling all over America.
Earlier today, just for fun, I tried and passed a U.S. history test (How Well Do You Know America) a friend had posted on Facebook, with 10 out of 15 correct answers. That test score afforded me True Patriot status. You had better not score less than 10/15… if you’ve lived in the U.S. all your life!
Mentally, I have been able to grow more in the last half decade than in several that had gone before: freer of thought; more bold; better educated; more tolerant of others; wealthier in mind, soul and body; more mature in thought and reason, and so much more.
Having lived in Canada for a decade prior to my arrival in the U.S. was a wonderful way for us to prep. My family and I are eternally grateful to Canada for taking us in, welcoming us as new immigrants in the late 90’s, and for helping to mold our thoughts to dissolve prejudiced beliefs, backgrounds and upbringing, respectively.
In fact, Canadian politeness, tolerance and class - not to mention cool, sexy and polite - provided a wonderful foundation for us to continue to aspire to build upon, for the rest of our lives.
What a difference only fifteen years can make! That’s altogether just less than a third of my entire life, but delivering, oh, probably 90% of the good character traits mentioned above, that I espouse to making my own aspirational goal.
Four years ago, over dinner once in a country far away, a family member asked me why I live in the U.S. He added the additional challenge question; “What can you get there that you cannot get here?” It’s very difficult to answer these questions, because while he was thinking cars, pizza and cocktails, I was thinking choice, lifestyle and freedom.
The United States has many problems. Strife not uncommon to other nations also, mostly borne of greed, poverty, religion, politics, etc. But, despite not always being united, this country works… where else can a Middle-Eastern Oriental Carpet dealer set up shop right next to a Jewish deli with both owners, the surrounding businesses and their own business ventures, thriving?
American ingenuity, and creativity of thought knows no bounds. Why?
Freedom. That’s predominantly why! Lack of interference from primary sources of control.
You see... a typical technology startup founder in San Francisco is generally not shackled by formal educational restrictions, lack of financing for their ideas, political or religious affiliation, etc. They’re free, absolutely free! And you’ll be using their next tech invention very soon, maybe even this year!
They are free to dream, imagine, create. Simple, new solutions to complex problems, like Uber. Or, something you didn’t even know you wanted, or would need in the future, like Facebook. Products that do things for you that you used to have to do yourself, like Google’s driverless cars.
New ways to share information, allowing you to finally cancel that useless cable TV subscription, which had been sucking the very life right out of you!
American marketing genius… those opening lines above, right at the start of this post.
I’ve yet to hear anyone express a desire to chase The Chinese or Japanese Dream, or refer to France or Switzerland as the “land of opportunity.” No, America has successfully claimed, and ever since owned, the narrative related to the bold and the free, the land of milk and honey.
When the U.S. achieves a global ranking of 30th in math and science, but 1st in confidence, is the latter just American bravado, or the aforesaid perhaps a systemic failure of our global education system?
Perhaps we’re measuring the wrong educational success benchmarks? After all, most of the more recent, genius inventors of our generation had dropped out of school before even finishing the degree that they had been enrolled for.
And, regardless of a failure to graduate from college or university, Bill Gates created Microsoft, Michael Dell the successful computer hardware corporation bearing his last name, Mark Zuckerberg Facebook, and so on.
I’m not dissing education. In fact, right now 75% of my 4-person family's members are at school, learning new skills and enriching our own lives with newfound academic knowledge. The difference is, while we are free to pursue this learning, we are also free to dream, imagine and execute. Did you know that you don’t need anyone’s permission to start your own business… today?
Happy Fourth of July!
And Happy Independence! I wish the same for you, wherever you may be… on the 4th, and actually every day, thereafter.