As I sit and look at all the many troubles that plague this country, it seems as if we often are seeking answers in the wrong places. Tens of thousands of gallons of oil are filling the Gulf as I write this, yet the last eight presidents of this country have promised to rid us of this dependency. Those on the left look towards Obama for a solution to fix the economy and provide more jobs, while those on the right claim that we should have less government control, yet also claim that Obama is not doing enough to fix the economy. Was the stimulus too large, or was it not large enough? Were we wrong to bail out the banks? Was health care reform too centrist, too liberal, or way too conservative? These questions and dilemmas that plague our economy are just a few that give rise to legitimate debate of who is at fault, but America, it is time to refocus our attention on the best solution of all...YOU!
We are all waiting for change, and although I support Barack Obama, he will never provide as large of a change as you can provide. YOU are the change that we are waiting to see in this country and I beg you to work hard to be that change. The answer to the dependency on oil, be it foreign or domestic, can be you if you are preparing to enter into a field of engineering and will help us build more factories here in this country that can produce solar panels and wind turbines. You can help by simply becoming more conscious of the oil consumption that you use on a day to day basis and purchase more energy efficient vehicles, properly inflate your tires, or car pool. The answer to our health care problem could be you if you decide right now that you are going to eat healthier and workout more regularly and not strain the already funds-deficient health care system. The answer to the next financial crisis could be you if you promise to educate yourself about investments and make sure that you know how to read the fine print before sign the mortgage to purchase the largest investment of your life. The answer to our overpopulated prisons can be you if you decide to mentor more youth or volunteer to help those underfunded programs designed to educate the formerly incarcerated in a skill set of which you are an expert. There is no problem in America that cannot be fixed by the citizens of America if we collectively all do our part to make a change.
I know that times are hard, but hard times don't negate your responsibility to contribute...hard times are the REASON that you should work twice as hard to make sure that you are doing all you can to fulfill your share. Without your efforts, this country will never recover. The most patriotic act that you can do is to strengthen yourself for the benefit of helping others to become strong.
It will not be the government, it will not be a strengthening dollar, it will not be a recovering financial system, and it will not be a stronger health care system. All of these things AID the recovery, but none are as strong as the will and the spirit of the American people that through history has always been the SUSTAINER of recovery. It is the strong will and spirit I want to see more of because I know that we all have much more to give. So, I have given four things that I feel will help you along in this process to recover our country's greatness:
Find Your Passion
"But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today." Deuteronomy 8:18
Each one of you has God-given talents that will create a pathway towards wealth for you, your family, and community. I challenge you to search deep inside yourselves to locate the talents and skills that lie within. What subjects are you always discussing with your friends and family? What hobbies do you find that you cannot break away from? Is there something that you find yourself always thinking about? These are some questions that you can ask yourself to discover your talents and passions of life. Financial literacy will not create your future wealth. It is within your purpose and passions of life that you will find your future's greatest treasures. Financial literacy will assist you to retain the abundant wealth that I am certain you all will acquire over your lifetime.
Create and Follow Your Vision
"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Proverbs 29:18
One, five, 10 and 20 years from today, where will you be and what you will be doing? I challenge you all to have a vision of tomorrow that is far greater than the vision that I have for you. Do not let any one person's vision for you exceed the visions that you have for yourself. The only person that can put a limit on your growth is you. All in America have come from greatness. If we are a country whose intellectual capital and economic prowess continues to enhance within each successive generation then your future has greater promise than your ancestry. Strive to be greater than kings, stronger than queens... Dare to be great.
Execute a Perpetual Lifetime Pursuit of Knowledge
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." Proverbs 1:7
I challenge you to continue to develop your mind and seek knowledge. It has been said that one extra hour of study per day in your field will make you an expert in five years. However, do not limit your study to your field. Seek knowledge and awareness of financial literacy, physical wellness, politics, legal issues, self, family, community, and God. Read at least one book per month, enroll in a local community college to further your education and diversify your skill set, volunteer to teach your expertise at the local high school because the best way to learn something is to teach it, or find multiple mentors who will allow you to tap into their intellectual capital regularly. Challenge yourself to be well-rounded as there are many aspects of your life that will have an impact on your economic well-being.
Take Tangible Action
"Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18
How much do you love your community, your family, and yourself? I challenge you to take the necessary action to do the things that will support and uplift your community, your family, and yourself. I challenge you to not succumb to the temptation of being attractive instead of effective. I challenge you to defeat the temptation of being concerned with image as opposed to substance. I challenge you to write out a five-step tangible plan of action that will guide you to achieve the greatness that you see in your vision. Expound and elaborate upon this plan as you grow and mature within your walk of life (age does not equal maturity for I know many who have gotten older but have not matured). Tangible action carries far more impact than words.
There will be many times people may deem you to be too inadequate to handle certain responsibilities and will underestimate the potential that you know you possess. Do not let this discourage you. The ONLY person that can put a limit on your growth and development is you. Regardless of what people feel towards you, I challenge you to be diligent enough to make each day a day to improve and expand your mind while growing as a person. Ask God each morning to make this day the day that you become a better, stronger contributor to your community. Thank God each night as you reflect upon how He has blessed you and granted your morning request. I believe that you all are destined for greatness. However, what I believe is not as important as what you believe. You must believe that you will fulfill your tremendous potential that our country desperately needs to be great again.
I would like to leave you with a video of some young men and women who have decided that they will be the change that they want to see in this country and in the world. I show this video as an inspirational tool for you to demonstrate that there are those out there who have decided that no matter the situation (as many on this video have come from an impoverished background) their future is not written for them but is written by them. They have all decided to find their purpose and passion in life, create a vision for themselves, continue to seek knowledge, and have a tangible plan of action that they have already for AND will execute.
America, we need your greatness. Any country is only as strong as the people in it. I know that we all have a tendency to want to place blame, and there is plenty of responsibility for our current economic situation to go around. However, I am not as concerned as the reason for our economic condition, as I am with the solution for our economic condition. That solution is YOU. Be the change!
"The Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work." 1 Chronicles 28:10