Letter to the Editor: Opportunity is knocking
November 13, 2008
As I sat in a Washington, D.C. cab the other day, the Middle-Eastern accented cabbie asked me who I was going to vote for. Not wishing to risk a debate, I responded that I hadn’t decided yet and I returned the question to him. He told me that he hadn’t decided either, but he was impressed that a minority of any sort could be so close to being President of the United States.
In his country, he told me, minorities were treated poorly and taken advantage of. He discovered that in America, if you are willing to work hard, you have the opportunity to achieve anything you desire no matter what your heritage.
I could see that he didn’t take this country for granted, and that he was literally working hard to achieve his goals. He told me he knew that for better or for worse, his fate was in his own hands and that he was in control of his own destiny.
Later, as I sat in an airplane, I wished all of us could see our country the way that cab driver did. He had come from oppression to freedom and was enjoying unfettered liberty.
Yet I know that liberty is only part of the formula. An economic system that provides individuals with opportunities is another part, and the willingness to better oneself through hard work is the rest.
We have worked hard for more than 200 years in this country to create just such a place, but it will ultimately be up to the individual, not the government, to fulfill the formula’s promise. I was reminded of one of my favorite sayings: “Most people miss when opportunity knocks because it knocks on the back door wearing overalls and a tool belt and expects you to work.”