Thursday, July 06, 2006

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of…

Almost all Americans know that quote. It comes from the Declaration of Independence. This document, while it has no legal bearing on our government (where the Constitution does), spells out clearly the ideals of what it means to be American. In a lot of ways, it’s like our country’s mission statement.

Here’s the full quote:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” (for a full, annotated text of the Declaration, go to:

That spells out that we believe that everyone on the earth should have the right to live, the right to choose their own path, and the right to be happy and seek to better their own lives.

It’s that last part that I want to talk about today. Actually, I want to celebrate it today. The Pursuit of Happiness. That simple phrase, when applied economically, has created a concept, a focus, that we often nebulously refer to as “The American Dream”. This is the idea that no matter what the circumstance, a person with creativity, motivation and persistence can excel in America. That’s why America’s economy is one of the strongest in the world. That’s why America is often referred to as “The Land of Opportunity”.

American history is full of “rags to riches” stories of impoverished children or immigrants who arrived on our shores penniless. People who, after much hard work and innovation, amassed great fortunes.

Most of you who are reading this today are doing so because you’re entrepreneurs yourself. Maybe you’re on the edge of it, merely considering taking the plunge. Do you have the creativity to stand out, to make a difference? Do you have the motivation to try? To move from dreaming to action? Do you have the persistence to keep at it until the success comes, to not abandon your dreams because they don’t happen as fast as you wanted at first?

To you, I say, welcome to this Land of Opportunity!

If you want to have a part in this land, but you feel you don’t have those traits I mentioned, join in anyway, and strive to develop them! Get help! Work with others whose strengths complement your weaknesses. Learn and grow. Then turn around, and help others learn and grow in your steps.

Ours is a great tradition of a free market economy. Yes, in many cases, it has had to be regulated and maintained. Yes, the freedom to excel has often brought with it the freedom to exploit. Many who’ve chosen these destructive paths have caused considerable damage to the world around them. It’s not a perfect system.

But I still celebrate it. In this season of celebrating our nation, let’s remember our roots and celebrate our freedom to pursue happiness.

And let’s celebrate it by going out and pursuing it with vigor.

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