Celebrations like Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day are among the things that define the American Experiment. When we declared independence from England nearly 250 years ago, the country didn’t magically become ‘free’ and all our people ‘equal’.
We took off one cloak and replaced it with another. The founding fathers knew they were imperfect, and often had to trade like crazy to cut the deals that held our fledgling country together. That political infighting continues to this day.
The founders knew that change would come, but they understood that culture moves slowly. Certainly they wanted it “NOW” but the differing social and economic forces prevented many of the changes needed.
It took the famous ‘four score and seven’ years for slavery to be abolished. It has taken an additional 150 years for those held in servitude to see their ancestors in a time where they have the opportunity to lead better lives.
The key word is not freedom, but opportunity. We have become so embroiled in accusations and petty hatred that we have forgotten that what makes us great, and in most cases unique, is not the freedom we take for granted, but the opportunity we all have to succeed, and also to fail.
We have the independence to make what we want of our lives. Some start higher on the ladder than others, some have to struggle just to get started. Life isn’t fair. But each of us has the opportunity to make of ourselves what we can.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book about Outliers and their investment of 10,000 hours of practice in their field of endeavor has been scientifically debunked. There are other attributes including intelligence, age, talent, and even the selection of a field of focus. It is doubtful that Bill Gates could have become an NBA star, no matter how many hours he put into it, but neither could Kareem Abdul Jabbar have guided a dos program to the size of Microsoft. We each have our own path.
Given the opportunity and independence each of us has, its frustrating that others are more successful and many without even having to put in the 10,000 hours. They seem to flow through life from one success to another, while we are still practicing and trying and failing. What the hell talent do they have that I don’t?
If you have the time over the Independence Day Weekend how about considering not the reason why you are where you are today, why you succeeded or failed, but the opportunity and independence your country has provided. By the way, that’s all you get. The rest is up to you.