Optimism is not just unique to Americans. But we own it by rising to the challenges of our history.
Even in the depth of destruction of the recent storm, Sandy, Americans are seen to be an optimistic people who will simply walk outside the day after the storm and start cutting back the branches of the fallen tree that blocks their front door. You have to begin somewhere.
America with iridescent optimism appeals to people of other countries. Let us not foget that we are a land of immigrants. Americans are the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, of those who wanted a better life. So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same.
Recently I heard a program on the radio interviewing young recent immigrants. Before they came to America, their vision of America was what they saw on TV and American movies ó a beautiful land with big homes. The reality of America for them was culture and street shock. Who were those people on the curb with signs asking for help? America has homeless. These youths talked of their struggles with the adjustment and language. It was hard work. But these youth were all now speaking English, were going to school and/or had jobs and they had optimism.
I write this commentary the Sunday before a pivotal election one side claiming more optimism than the other. When this hard fought election is over, yard signs come down and we are freed of political commercials.
Americans will be eager to get to work, but will we be optimistic, positive and confident in our leaders for the future?
The people of this country, by huge margins, want our city, state and federally elected officials to work together, cross the aisle and make government work. They want our representatives to play by the same rules and laws we, as citizens, are required to live. We want jobs, health care and access to education for ourselves and our children so we can have the life that their immigrant ancestors dreamed of.
Americans donít believe that anybody is entitled to success, but we do believe in opportunity. We do believe in a country where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, where everybody is getting a fair shot and is doing their fair share by playing by the same rules. Thatís the country that holds the optimism we believe in.
Lee Perkins moved to Atascadero with her family in 1986 and is now retired. She has worked as a secretary, office administrator/public relations, and school counselor K-12.For the complete article see the 11-09-2012 issue.
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