by Larry Oxenham, Publisher
America is, or was, an ATTITUDE as much as a dream.
Today’s Americans have a pretty good life but seem to have forgotten freedom comes with a price tag called responsibility.
America’s can-do attitude is not in America today but it does exist, elsewhere!
My son, Jay, son has accepted a position with a company in Reghen, Romania, a town noted for violin manufacturers. He will be working with a company that manufactures high end violins, currently sells to Italy and Asia and intends to open up in the U.S.
But the bigger picture is Romania is now one of the most entrepreneurial countries in Europe, a former Eastern block country once dominated and abused by the Russian communist system. The country is still fighting the vestiges of communism including corruption and lack of infrastructure.
JUST 20 YEARS AGO ROMANIA WAS A COMMUNIST COUNTRY WITH NO OPPORTUNITY, NO PROGRESS AND LITTLE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
Most Americans remember the removal of the Berlin Wall separating the West from the East and freeing people who had lived much of their lives under oppression. These populations had been told the State was their master and their god and any attempt to criticize or destroy the state was met with prison or death.
Their lives were little more than lethargic steps leading eventually to death.
But the spirit of the individual was unleashed when Communism let go, much like the spirit of America was born when the colonists broke free from the King of England.
What followed in America was a somewhat uneven but consistent path towards the ability of individuals to prosper and now to an education system and population somehow blinded to the fact they have it pretty good.
We can cite all the reasons – a media that celebrates failure, an education system that condemns every element of our history and those who founded and built the country, and an outgoing president who made it clear he believes the country is ‘unfair’.
Add to this a young population without a vested interest in America – everything has been handed to them, they have not been criticized or challenged, and they have been taught everything about America is fundamentally unfair because the founders were unfair -, a population that has largely seen only America and has not had the opportunity to visit other countries and compare, a general feeling that this a country without merit: a formula for failure as a country.
Thus we see the never ending temper tantrum from the media, students and paid protesters after the election, protest groups that offer nothing but destruction in their wake, and a public attitude that the best would be behind America if we have ever had a ‘best’.
Some states, California leading the way, believe today’s emphasis is and should be marijuana, LGBT bathrooms, unfettered immigration, and ever-larger government involvement in our lives.
America was founded on a bedrock of sacrifice, freedom and opportunity for all, but today we mostly –
And we whine from the air conditioned comfort of our well constructed homes, choose our food from a well equipped grocery store, drive our comfortable car to and fro, and find an abundant supply of pharmaceuticals to ease any pain we might have.
Two years ago I spent time in another formerly communist country, Slovakia, a small country that embraces freedom, loathes communism, and is providing entrepreneurial opportunities to a population so elated to be free they wake up each day like a child ready to open a present.
Romania is such a country.
Romania suffered under communism until the early 1990’s and still pushes the remnants – lack of infrastructure, corruption, etc. – away little by little. Much of what we take for granted – advanced technology, accessible transportation system, adequate public services – are uneven through the country.
This was Romania under Communism: lines for food.
Romania today free from Communism.
Romanians value their FREEDOM more than any physical comfort.
Romania today is a little like the U.S. in the 1950’s when Americans expected prosperity and the middle class enjoyed the American dream of opportunity for everyone.
All Romanian citizens take 7 years or more of English in school and they consider America and Turkey their main allies and trading partners.
The annual GDP has been about 5% or higher in recent years (compared to 1% in the US) and is expected to continue at a very aggressive pace.
BUT IT IS THE ATTITUDE OF ROMANIANS THAT SHOULD INSPIRE THOSE OF US IN THE US.
The people Jay is working with consist of an investment group currently buying businesses for growth primarily in Romania but also in other countries, and the Violin manufacturer is headed by an individual who also has interests in Spain and England and told Jay, “There is so much opportunity in Romania today we can make all the money we want.”
(By the way, when was the last time our current president or any public figure or media entity told you, “America is a land of opportunity and you can achieve anything if you make the effort?”)
And what has our attitude been here in the US?
We have been told our economic stagnation is just the ‘new normal’ and our expectations are almost nil.
We have been told you can’t make it due to any number of prejudices or whatever.
We have been told we need our politicians and media to tell us what’s wrong and come up with fixes: how has that worked out?!
There was a time in America when Americans woke up each day either prepared to go to a job of their choice or to jump into the entrepreneurial world and build their dream.
There was a time in America when Americans expected to forge their own path.
AMERICANS TODAY, WITH NOTABLE EXCEPTIONS, HAVE LOST THE SPIRIT THAT MADE AMERICA THE ENVY OF THE WORLD.
But those who have suffered under oppressive regimes and are now free – primarily Eastern Europe – have unleashed their pent up spirit and are now the movers and shakers.
Romanians, and their formerly communist neighbors, are people for whom every day represents an opportunity to do well, for whom every day holds the excitement of expectations, and for whom every day is loaded with possibilities.
If you had a child wouldn’t this be the environment you would want him/her to wake up to daily?
Every country in the world used to look to the US as the model that made success possible; today’s Americans are more likely to ask for a handout than to lead.
Jay is heading for an environment in which people wake up each morning, do not consider the government at all, and get to work. He has already received his schedule for coming months and it includes the Opera in Vienna, business meetings in London and Spain, and a host of positive experiences that should shape his attitude for the foreseeable future.
Jay has always been fairly positive but now, in his 30’s, he is a product of an America that finds it hard to accept prosperity. My guess is, when he returns in several months or a year or so to lead the U.S. operations, he will return with an attitude that finds success the right choice and whining an unforgivable choice.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the U.S. got a little of that spirit back? It really is about ATTITUDE, isn’t it.
And maybe, just maybe, enough Americas will visit these formerly oppressed countries and that can-do attitude will find it’s way back!
It’s a nice thought.
Your comments are always welcome.