There are days I am immensely proud of my friends. Today is one of those days. Prompted by the story about which I wrote in this post, Ben Domenech posted a series of tweets that together are as eloquent a defense of the wonder that is America as I’ve ever read. With his permission, I aggregated them and present them to you here.
Some people covet what others have, and seek to destroy them or steal it away. Others decide to work hard and earn it for themselves. The wonderful thing about America is that the barriers of class are nothing compared to the will and strength of human endeavor.
As a kid, we only had hand me downs, never went to restaurants, our neighborhood was crime ridden. My first house is now a crack house. I had no idea how poor we were by comparison to friends who had new everything, beach houses, real milk. But with commitment, hard work, and long hours, you can achieve a better life not just for yourself, but for your family.
A kid who had nothing but a mother and grandparents who loved him can become a bestselling author, a millionaire, a president. That’s what this is all about. Whether our children will have the same opportunities, the same chance to make something of themselves. To decide the life they want, to pursue it, to earn it, and to pass it on – not weighed down by the bad decisions of those who came before.
My grandfather was the 7th child. Puerto Rican. No royal blood. No riches. He is buried in Arlington among the heroes. Because he earned it. A handout may be given out of pity. But in time it can become a prison for millions of lives. How quickly a safety net can become a ghetto. How easy it is to pass debt along to others yet unborn. Americans still want to work. To strive. To make something of themselves. Not to fall into the maw of welfare and food stamps.
Washington tells us we need them to save us from ourselves. But their policies all too often just make those class divides brick walls. I will be able to give my kids a better life. But if I was to lose it all tomorrow, the answer isn’t to covet what another family has. It’s to look at what they have and set your mind to the pursuit of it, to hard work and effort. It’s to say “They earned that life. And so will I. Because I am an American. And I can.”
America is a country where anyone — anyone! — can take an idea, work it as hard as they can, and turn it into success that can last for generations. The greatest treasure hidden inside America is that the success we build in our lifetimes can lift up the next generation and make it just a little bit easier to build their successes which will in turn build up the generation that follows them. It’s how we’ve gone from a distant outpost of colonies, separated from most of the civilized world by great oceans, to the greatest nation on the face of the planet by a long shot.
It would be criminal if we allowed petty, selfish jealousy to destroy what our fathers and grandfathers built for us.
(Let me also mention that Ben and Brad Jackson make a daily half-hour podcast called Coffee and Markets that is worthy of your attention.)