... on the other side of the fence.
But, where is the fence? Is it an imaginary border around your yard, your block, your town or state? And what about your country? Is the grass greener on the other side of your country's border?
I've met a lot of people who think it is. Take my friend who was born into an affluent Mexican family. She has a college degree and had come here to America seeking enterprise. She had heard many stories about all the wonderful "rights" that Americans have and was envious. Then, when she came here, she was aghast that Americans take all those precious "rights" for granted. How could we be so callous? Here we sit, in the lap of luxury, convenience, and privelege ... and then have the audacity to complain. She just couldn't understand how we could be so unappreciative of all the good things we have.
So, one day, I asked her. "Just what is it you think we have that your country doesn't?" She thought a moment, then replied. "You have reliable power, and phone service, and television, and nice cars and clothes, and you never go hungry ... and look at all the "rights" you have! And you don't even appreciate them!"
Feeling it my duty, I corrected her on her misconceptions. Yes, we have reliable power, and phones, and TV and cars and clothes and food. But let's take a look at all these "rights" you think we have, because in reality, we don't have quite as many "rights" as you may think.
First, let's look at her perception of our "right" to own a car and drive it. While we may have the "right" to own a car, we don't have the "right" to drive it. We have the "privelege" of driving it ... on the roads that we have paid to have paved. Just call the DMV. They'll be happy to tell you that it is a "privelege" to drive a car, not a "right."
And what about power and phones and TV and clothes and food? Are those really "rights?"
"But," she countered, "you have the "right" to vote, and look at how many Americans abuse it by NOT voting." So, I explained that misconception. "It's an empty "right." While we do get to go to the poles and vote, it's not our individual votes that elect our officials. The votes that count ... the votes that actually determine who will win and be our next elected official ... are the votes of the Electoral College. In other words, it's the votes of the Senators and Congressmen that count, not the individual citizen. And the Senators and Congressmen have their own best interests at heart, not ours. Heck, we don't even get to choose who runs for office. That's all done by either the Demoncratic or Republican parties ... again, by politicians.
But she just didn't want to listen. So, I told her, "Here's what "rights" the American citizen has. We have the "right" to pay our bills on time. We have the "right" to keep quiet or get branded as a complainer." "We have the right to obey our employer, regardless of how fair the demand is, because he/she is the business owner." "We have the right to put with price gouging, inconsiderate telemarketing, and annoying advertising, because the profit of a business is more important than the rights of a citizen."
Oh, my. She was so offended. So, I told her to stick around for a while and see for herself.
She must have finally done just that. She now lives in France.
And then, there's the Pakistani proprietor of a store that I shop at. His story is one I hear from immigrants all the time. He has no complaints about living here, or about what the "rights" of an American are. But his relatives back home see things quite differently. They continually complain about how good he has it, and how bad it is back home. There's no reliable power. Their children have no education. They live in squallor. They have no say in how their lives are lived. On, and on, and on. And he has no answer for them.
I tell him that if things are that bad at home, then perhaps his relatives there should move here as well. But it appears that they would rather sit home and complain about what they don't have.
So, I ask myself. Just what is it that makes all these foreigners think that the grass is greener in America?
Is it that we have reliable power? Surely not. There is reliable power in Demark, and I never hear anyone saying that the Danes have superior "rights."
Is it our education system? Surely not. I never hear anyone saying that the Germans, the English, or the Japanese have superior "rights." They have good educational systems.
Is it clothes and food? Surely not. I never hear anyone saying that the French have superior "rights."
Is it the "right" to vote? If so, then why aren't the foreigners flocking to any other democratic country instead of America?
What is it that makes America so SPECIAL?
Is it because God came down and said that Americans get all the good stuff and everyone has to suffer? Surely not. God seems to talk to foreigners too.
So what is it? What is it that WE have, that THEY admire so much?
Could it be ... possibly ... that we have all these things because ... we insist upon having them?
Could it be that what these foreigners perceive as "rights" is, in actuallity, sheer will?
Could it be that we have reliable power ... because we INSIST upon having it?
Could it be ... ???
I think it could.
What happens when our power DOES go out? We get on the phone and tell the power company that if they don't get it back on right away, we won't be paying our bill. We insist.
What happens when the quality and quantity of our food supply falls short? We insist.
And if we can insist, why can't the foreigners? Could they, perhaps, improve their countries too ... simply by demanding it?
Oh, yeah, that's right. They don't have the "right" to insist.
Well, you know what? You don't need the "right." You only need the will.
After all, which is stronger, one dictator, or a few million citizens?
So to all of you who have family back "home" in a foreign country where life isn't as cozy as it is in America, I say ... quit complaining about how bad off you are and start insisting that your quality of life improve. That's what we did. That's why we have the good things we have. We insisted, and we didn't quit insisting until we got what we wanted ... reliable power, phones, TV, cars, clothes, food, and education.
You can have them too. And you don't have to move here to get them. You only need to stand up for yourselves and start insisting that you get them.
Let that dictator threaten to kill you all. And then, remind him that when he HAS killed you all, he'll no longer have anyone to be dictator over. So, he'd better get with the game plan and give you what you want. It's your way, or the highway.
Act like an American. Insist. Insist that you get what you want. And insist that your fellow countrymen insist right along with you.
And if you're saying that it sounds too simplistic to be true, think about this. What does the infant do when it wants its diaper changed? It insists.
What does the child do when it's hungry? It insists.
And if infants and children can understand this concept, surely adults can too.
Instead of insisting that our diapers get changed, we'll insist that we have diapers TO change.
It does work. Just look at America. We did it. You can too. It may take time and effort, but it does work.
Millions of infants and children have already proven it.
April 14, 2008