kestrel

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2022-01-27 21:51:00 (UTC)

Prompt 150: Land of Opportunity

150. The U.S. has been called "the land of opportunity." Does that nickname still ring true? Why or why not?
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Much of last year, I was completely enamored with the recordings from a guy named Earl Nightingale. He was a journalist and motivational speaker who was able to record his most valuable thoughts either in his books or in radio programs. I'm not quite sure what first piqued my interest in his works, and eventually his recordings, but I latched on to them perhaps in the Spring of last year and devoured them as much as I could. I even have his recordings in the car and I listen to them like audiobooks from time to time, for inspiration and to re-energize.

He was from a different era (born in the early 1920s). In contrast to me personally, he was a total gung-ho corporate business advocate. He died in 1989: before neoliberalism had firmed its grip into the inescapable iron fist that now squeezes the people and the planet dry. As such, a number of his ideas - I think - can no longer be applied to contemporary life in the US. I still remember some of his comments that belie his corporate, entrepreneurial perspective that I found disconnected from his more personal, abstract, non-financial guidelines.

While our opinions can widely differ, I still find some true pieces of priceless advice in his works. Primary among these is attitude. A central tenet of his regarding attitude is that one's attitude shapes one's environment, regardless of the environment's influence on one's life. There are certain material things that are inescapable, but one's reaction to it cannot be dictated by anyone or anything besides that person, themselves. He also promotes true courage: resisting conformity.

I'm rambling on about this because I've become convinced that, although the USA is a hellscape of megacorporate-dominated, consumerist, wasteful ideas that value marketability above all other supposed virtues... One still has control over their own attitude. Nightingale inspires us to "build, dream, create," and that, "We become what we think about." No matter where you are in the world, our attitude influences our lives, and can shift our own lives in the direction and into the shape that we want... As long as we've developed a goal or two that provides us with direction.

So, in the intensely local, personal sense: yes, the United States is the land of opportunity. But it's not alone in that. I'm not convinced that the United States is the only place where someone with an awesome, expectant, positive attitude and some goals they find worth pursuing, will thrive.

In contrast, I think that the phrase "land of opportunity" died, much like Earl Nightingale's entrepreneurial ideas lost their connection to reality. It likely was a phrase that emerged in post-WWII USA, when the US was at the top of the heap, and - for example - long before the rise of the financial services sector (that shepherded the US to the financial crash of 2008-2009).

If you're not yet somehow connected to "Corporate America," it is quite unlikely you'll become part of it. If you're not already integrated into the wealthy elite of the United States - or even the world - then forget it. You don't belong there, and you'll never be there. That doesn't mean you will never have a fulfilled, rewarding life. Just manage your expectations, and (reasonable) opportunity will present itself. One's attitude will help make sure they're ready to seize that opportunity.


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