One of the most memorable experiences in life is obtaining your driver’s license. The anticipation leading up to the event is incredible, and the joy of receiving that license is even better. It’s fantastic to be able to drive, but that pales in comparison to the freedom that a license affords you. The same rings true about graduation — leaving home and living on your own. There’s no one to tell you what to do or second-guess your decisions — unless you ask, of course. You’re in the driver’s seat — but buckle up — freedom comes with a price tag.
Some of the best things in life have strings attached. In this case, freedom is a blessing, but it’s also a curse. YOU are the captain of the ship — and hold all the cards. You set your course, make the difficult choices, and determine what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals. Every time you achieve success, you can take great pride in knowing that you earned it. Conversely, every time you fail, you earned that as well. The key is that you own your life — the choices, as well as the consequences. As the Bible warns, whatever you sow, you shall reap.
If you’re not willing to make the commitment, don’t complain about the outcome.
Freedom Makes Everything Possible
The American Dream may mean something different to each of us. At its best, it affords each American the freedom and opportunity to pursue happiness according to one’s own aspirations. At its worst, the American Dream can be squandered on shallow goals that offer little substance or satisfaction. For these reasons, when choosing your version of the American Dream, be realistic about your choices and bold in your actions.
Some people define the American Dream as living “a better and richer life” — where everyone strives to live glamorously like characters in The Great Gatsby, and where materialism and excess flourish. For others, it means living a life of self-sacrifice, such as pursuing a career that helps others or that offers their children a better life than they had. Still others may equate the American Dream with being the first member of their family to go to college, create a small business, run a marathon, write a novel, conquer a disease, or overcome an addiction. The possibilities are endless.
Others might view the American Dream as being more about the journey than the destination. That might include being a good spouse and parent, fostering a supportive relationship with co-workers, or simply maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Fortunately, our country doesn’t define the American Dream for us, nor does it limit the number of people who can achieve success — despite what some say.
Whatever your definition, realizing the American Dream isn’t always easy. While, in principle, it offers each person an “equal opportunity” to succeed, it does not guarantee “equal outcomes” — not everyone ultimately succeeds in their quest. So don’t expect to wake up one morning to learn that you’ve become an overnight success. It simply doesn’t work that way. There’s no easy road to success. It takes hard work, determination, and commitment.
It can’t be done for you; it must be done by you.
The fact is, nothing worthwhile in life is easy to attain without effort. If we want the next generation to be successful, the best we can do is invest in people by providing a strong family structure, instilling solid values and the powerful work ethic needed to succeed, backed up by a first-rate education. The rest is up to them.
Let Freedom Ring
If you want to know the value of freedom, ask people who only dream of having it — people who don’t possess the freedoms that our founders granted in the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And yet, even though many people gave their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy, others now take these freedoms for granted.
Freedom is a very special gift, but you have to be willing to defend and preserve it. As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Stand up for your freedoms before what you have becomes what you had.
What Does Freedom Mean to You?
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