Think­ing About What's Right in Amer­ica

El Dorado News-Times - - Viewpoint - Star Parker is an au­thor and pres­i­dent of CURE, Cen­ter for Ur­ban Re­newal and Ed­u­ca­tion. Con­tact her at www.ur­ban­cure.org. To find out more about Star Parker and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cat

Amid this hol­i­day sea­son of re­flec­tion, I'm think­ing about Amer­ica's fu­ture. A new poll from Gallup serves up some sober­ing data re­gard­ing how young Amer­i­cans feel about their coun­try.

Gallup asked the ques­tion,

"Do you think the U.S. has a unique char­ac­ter that makes it the great­est coun­try in the world, or don't you think so?"

Eighty per­cent said "yes,"

Amer­ica is the great­est coun­try, in 2010 and 78 per­cent said yes in 2018.

How­ever, among 18- to

34-year-olds, 80 per­cent said yes in 2010 but this dropped by 18 per­cent­age points in 2018 to 62 per­cent.

It's trou­bling to think that now 4 out of 10 young Amer­i­cans do not see their na­tion as ex­cep­tional and the great­est in the world.

Maybe there is a sense creep­ing into our youth that Amer­ica is no longer the land of op­por­tu­nity that it once was.

In a 2017 Pew Re­search Global At­ti­tudes and Trends sur­vey, only 37 per­cent of Amer­i­cans said they be­lieved so when asked, "When chil­dren to­day grow up, will they be bet­ter off fi­nan­cially than their par­ents?" This com­pared with 82 per­cent in China (in 2016), 69 per­cent in Chile and 50 per­cent in Is­rael.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent data from the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, just 50 per­cent of those born in 1984 earn more than their par­ents, com­pared with 61 per­cent of those born in 1970 and 79 per­cent of those born in 1950.

But if Amer­ica's youth are los­ing a sense that this is a land of dreams, this sen­ti­ment doesn't seem to be shared by the mil­lion im­mi­grants who ar­rive in the U.S. ev­ery year.

Ac­cord­ing to a new study by the Na­tional Foun­da­tion for Amer­i­can Pol­icy, 55 per­cent of pri­vately held startup com­pa­nies in the U.S. now worth more than a bil­lion dol­lars were started by im­mi­grants from 25 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

The study re­ports that the col­lec­tive value of these firms founded by im­mi­grants is $248 bil­lion and each com­pany em­ploys an av­er­age of 1,200 peo­ple.

Most of these im­mi­grant en­trepreneurs came to the U.S. to study as in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and chose to stay and be­come cit­i­zens. How­ever, some ar­rived as refugees and were spon­sored by fam­ily mem­bers.

This all tells me that Amer­ica is still a land of dreams and op­por­tu­nity. Are there things wrong with this coun­try? Cer­tainly. But there still is plenty that is right.

Those who choose to up­root from nations all over the world to come here and start their lives anew are in­ter­ested in what is right, not what is wrong.

I like this quote from for­mer TV per­son­al­ity Art Lin­klet­ter, who ob­served, "Things turn out the best for the peo­ple who make the best of the way things turn out."

There's an im­por­tant point here. Suc­cess is not just about one's cir­cum­stances, but also what is hap­pen­ing in­side of each in­di­vid­ual -- one's char­ac­ter.

The hol­i­days are a good time to think about this. I sug­gest two things. First, let's look at what is right about Amer­ica. And sec­ond, let ev­ery Amer­i­can ask them­selves if they truly be­lieve they are the best they can be, and if not, why not?

Let's each take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to make our­selves and our coun­try as great as pos­si­ble and stop think­ing that it's oth­ers and cir­cum­stances that block our path.

I think the na­tion would soar, even with the things that are wrong, if all Amer­i­cans got out of bed each morn­ing with the sense that what hap­pens to them is not be­cause of any­thing but what they them­selves choose to do. And, if at the same time, we re­lated to our­selves and ev­ery­one else as cre­ated in the im­age of God.

We all would dis­cover how much power each of us has and we all would dis­cover how great Amer­ica is, be­cause it is free.

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