The Land of Opportunity!
Happy birthday America! (and my amazing wife!)
I was on the train today heading downtown to go to Court reflecting on the long holiday weekend. The 4th of July is a big deal in our house because my wife shares her birthday with our country. Most of my focus over the holiday is spent celebrating her, but as I was getting back to work this week I took some time to think about what I appreciate about America.
When you hear people talk about America, you often hear the same phrase repeated: “The Land of Opportunity.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, it’s hard to argue against the fact that America does present a LOT of different opportunities for various people. Now, many of these “opportunities” are bad ideas or simply traps that corporate America tries to wrangle people into. But, there are genuine opportunities in this country that just might work out for someone who puts in a lot of hard work and gets a little lucky. America’s promise is an opportunity, but it is not a guarantee of success. That promise of an opportunity is still awesome! I truly believe it exists for many of us. The harsh reality of life though, is that things don’t always work out. Stuff happens. Life can be hard… and unfair.
I think that what makes America’s promise of an opportunity actually work, is that there are safety nets in place for when things don’t go as planned. Businesses fail, economies crash, jobs are lost, people get sick… there are countless ways that things can go wrong and that “opportunity” you were pursuing… it turns into a nightmare. Without some form of a safety net there to catch you when you fall, almost all failures would be devastating and you might never recover.
Bankruptcy is one of those safety nets that allows people to pursue the American Dream. Did you know that going back to the 1800’s and beyond if you couldn’t pay your creditors back you were sent to a “debtor’s prison.” If you had to risk going to jail, would you really take out that mortgage to buy your dream home? Would you risk starting that business when jail time is the result of the business not succeeding? Some say we still have a form of “debtor’s prisons” (blog topic for another time), but for the most part, in modern times, if you can’t pay back your debts there is relief and protection from your creditors through our bankruptcy system.
That protection…that relief from the unseen calamity… that is what makes “The Land of Opportunity” real. In America, you can take a chance and if it doesn’t work out, you get to live to fight another day. Ain’t it great! ‘MERICA!