What many parents say to all of their kids: “You can be anything you want to be. You can be the President. You can run a company. You can be a famous actor, musician, athlete, scientist. You can cure cancer.”
But really, can we? These are nice encouraging words and certainly every person should reach high. But does every person have the aptitude to be great? Some people no matter how hard they work and how much they want something- they just don’t have all it takes: check out any of the first couple shows of any America’s Got Talent season. Sometimes, it’s just not the right moment in history. So, enough already.
What each person does have access to is the ability to have great character and to be a great human being. That’s it. Maybe you only have the ability or the cards were written such that you will only be a mediocre cashier at a supermarket or a middle manager or starving artist. But you can still be an exceptional human being who shows kindness and character… and in that you may be the key for someone else at that critical moment when you save their life, trigger an idea in their mind for the cure to cancer, encourage them to be president. But you may never get thanked for that; that person may never even realize your importance and it may never be written the part you played in history. Oh, and by the way, you may never be that special- but you’re needed all the same- for without each blade of grass playing its part, we’d never have a field.
Now, that’s a hard pill to swallow in the “I” culture of self-marketing we all live in. You can make a world altering difference that no one will ever know about- even you. You may live a life no matter how hard you work of never reaching your dreams or the potential that you believe you see in yourself. Or truthfully because you just don’t have that “it factor”- you are a blade of grass.
The greatest American story is that we can all achieve our dreams. And there is truth in that. No matter the flaws of this nation, it is unique People have a chance and opportunity here when they wouldn’t in another country. I’m not saying it’s a perfect system but still with its flaws, it still manages to open doors for people when few other places in the world would.
The most damaging American story is that we can all achieve our dreams. It’s just not true. But each of us can live a life filled with character and dignity. And this is what we need to say to our children. Their ultimate destiny is not in their hands any more than it is in yours.
“You can be the kindest person. You can be the most helpful person. You can be the most understanding, hardest working, honest, supportive person who spreads sunshine and joy.” That’s achievable. And if we only said that instead of pretending our children could achieve anything they want …. what difference do you think that would make in their lives?
Make you think? You may like reading When Do Children Become Adults