By Gerald Daniels & Jim Whitt
As you’re reading this you already know the outcome of the election, but as it is being written, politicians are scurrying about the countryside trying to garner that one last vote that will write their name into the history books.
There will be much talk around the water cooler, interoffice emails, and lengthy TV and talk radio discussions about what this president and congress is or isn’t going to do. Depending upon your political perspective, you may believe our country is either on the brink of disaster or on the road to greater glory based on the outcome of the election. And either scenario might be accurate. But as you’re pondering that perspective, consider this. When it comes to your future, who is most responsible for your success and your happiness? Is it the person who lives in the White House or the person who lives in your house?
Before you answer, here’s another perspective. Imagine that you have just arrived at Ellis Island, and you are reading these words from a poem that is mounted on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” You’re one of the wretched refuse who is homeless and tempest-tost. You have traveled from a third-world country and invested blood, sweat and tears to get to that golden door. But you made it — and you thank God you did. What’s your perspective? You’re not thinking about who won the election. You may not even know there was an election. Lady Liberty has just welcomed you to the land of opportunity. You’re grateful to be here and excited about your future.
What’s unfortunate is, that is not the perspective of many people in our country today. Many of us seem to believe that we are the tired and the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Have we forgotten on which side of the golden door we reside? Are times really that tough? Is life in America really that bad? Compared to what? You don’t have to read much history to know that life today is a cake-walk compared to the Great Depression and a couple of world wars — and that’s just recent history.
It’s easy to fall prey to the idea that we are just a tired, poor, huddled mass of humanity in need of someone to take care of us and our problems. When we buy into that, we no longer accept individual responsibility for our future. And we forget the potential contribution each person in our country can make. No matter our race, creed, color, religion, or even our political party, we are Americans and that is our most common denominator. And apparently we all would rather live in the land of the free and the home of the brave more than anywhere else in the world or we would have already packed our bags and sailed for other shores. But if we did we’d have to wave goodbye to Lady Liberty as we sailed by and think about the words of that poem. On which side of the golden door do we really want to live? Would we rather be on the outside looking in or the inside looking out?
What’s your perspective? The election is over. What does the future hold? No, let’s make it more personal. What does your future hold? It depends a lot more on the person who lives in your house than the person who lives in the White House.