My American Dream

north-carolina-7-2013-028

God Bless America

The “American Dream” is not a three bedroom house in the suburbs with a two car garage. It is not about accumulating vast wealth. It is not about achieving goals. And yet, it incorporates those things and much more because it is an idea. It is a very simple and very complex idea. The American dream is based on individual freedom – the most radical basis for a government the world has ever known.

Our Constitution was designed to protect us from government over-reach and tyranny so that we can pursue our individual dreams in peace. Our rights, as stated in the Declaration of Independence seem very simple on their surface – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but they encompass everything we need to survive or succeed, according to our ambition and ability. Any thinking person understands that we are not equal in intelligence, attractiveness, physical strength, ambition, character or abilities and nothing can make us equal by those measurements. We are all unique individuals and we are equal only in the eyes of God and the rights He has given us, which are protected by our Constitution. Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, this is the foundation upon which our country was built. We are equal in rights and opportunity under the law, not in achievement or acquisition or ability. We have the right to succeed and we have the right to fail. We have the right to pursue our happiness as we choose, as long as we don’t infringe upon the rights of others.

The American Dream is what has made this country exceptional. In spite of corrupt, immoral politicians and the army of federal agencies and government bureaucrats that are constantly chipping away at our Constitutional rights with a mountain of regulations, I believe the radical idea of individual freedom is still alive – although currently on life support. These are discouraging times and, although I’m sickened by the presidential campaign, I haven’t given up on the American Dream yet. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to fully appreciate my country and my rights – I really just started paying attention 5 years ago but now I look for and support politicians and organizations who are interested in protecting the Constitution from those who want to undermine or destroy it. Some people who know me think they know my politics but, they really don’t.  In my life I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans; in fact I just voted for a Democrat to be mayor of my town. I have tried to vote for the person I felt was best for the job; however, the Democrat party as a whole has veered way too far left in the past 20 years or so to align with me. 

I’m a Constitutional Conservative (with libertarian leanings), which means I think that conserving the Constitution is of more importance and significance than any one politician or political party. I’ve recently been educating myself about a movement that is growing in strength across the country – Convention of States http://www.cosaction.com/ Whatever your political party, if you’re concerned about the direction in which our country is heading, I urge you to go to their website and learn about their mission. I have signed their petition and I’m considering volunteering in some capacity with my state group. We the people still have rights that are worth fighting for.

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.  ~Patrick Henry (patriot, lawyer, and orator)

Ft. DeSoto dog beach 6-15-16

Freedom is a beautiful thing!

See more of my artwork at Lynda Linke Productions

Advertisements

Other People’s Lives

A Star to DiscoverRemember that old saying “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? I guess this is a human failing that has been with us for a long time because even one of the Ten Commandments addresses “coveting”. Have you compared yourself to other people and thought they were more successful than you, had more money, more advantages, happier relationships, were better looking, better parents, smarter, more creative, more confident, etc., etc.? Did you “covet” what they had? I think envying what other people have (or your perception of what they have) leads to thoughts and behavior that can only diminish your self-respect. I admit that I’ve wasted a fair amount of time and energy on that type of counterproductive thinking. For a long time I didn’t understand that success has to be defined by each individual – no one has the right to tell you what success means. It’s also important to understand the distinction between admiring someone and finding inspiration from the way they live their life and comparing yourself unfavorably or envying them. I believe that until you make peace with who you are you’ll never be content with what you have.

Here’s a news flash – everyone has their insecurities, doubts, and fears. Everyone has burdens they have to carry and, as an outside observer of their life, you can’t know what they are. No life is “perfect” or free of sorrow and pain – no matter how great it may look from the outside. A divorced friend of mine once told me that she always felt so lonely and like a failure when she observed all the “happy” couples and families in church. I told her that she should not compare her life to what she perceives other lives to be because that is all it is – her perception. Anyone who had observed her in church with her husband before they were divorced would have had no idea how unhappy she was. There is no way to know what is going on in someone else’s marriage based on outward appearances. As a divorced person, I was often envious of friends who seemed to be happily married but, many of those friends are now divorced, proving again that it is a mistake to compare your life to anyone else’s life.

I once had a conversation with a happily married friend who told me that she was envious of me because I was single and could do whatever I wanted without discussing it or compromising with anyone. She said she loved her husband but was envious of my “personal freedom”. That eye-opening conversation occurred when I was in my mid 40’s, a period of great personal growth for me, and the timing was perfect because it helped me to see that each of us truly has a unique life and our own path to travel. It is our responsibility to use the opportunities and abilities to create a happy, meaningful life. Can we have every single thing we desire? Probably not. If we get to the other side of the fence is the grass actually greener? Probably not. An important part of my own journey has been learning to be grateful for the many gifts I have been given and the life I have created. Adopting an attitude of gratitude allowed me to feel genuine happiness for someone else’s success without envying them or comparing myself to them.

I recently read something that was written by a hospice nurse who noted that the most common regret she heard from patients with a short time to live was that they wished they had the courage to live a life that was true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. It does take courage to live a life in which you are true to yourself but a good place to start is to stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday and try to be closer to your true self today. Remember, personal responsibility is implicit in our God-given right to the “pursuit of happiness”. Did you think that meant you have the right to be happy? Sorry to break it to you but, it simply means we have the right and the free will to pursue happiness – and don’t delude yourself into thinking that having equal rights means everyone is entitled to the same level of happiness or success. Equal rights are merely a starting point, not a guarantee of outcomes. Our own choices, actions, and thoughts, along with how we play the hand we’re dealt, will determine our happiness.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony. ~Mahatma Gandhi