President Barack Obama inferred in his inaugural address that a social safety net encourages risk taking and entrepreneurism. In his words, “The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Let’s face it: There will always be “takers” in every area of life — from greedy corporate CEOs to citizens that abuse entitlement programs. Years ago, I went to collect unemployment and was told that someone was using my Social Security number. I was shocked and then further floored when told it would not be reported, “as it happens all the time.”
There will always be bottom suckers — even in ivory towers — but they do not reflect the majority. And it’s the majority who make up the will of the people. And it’s the “will of the people” that determines our destination.
The majority of people do not take advantage of the system. They’re decent human beings who work hard and simply want to enjoy their friends and family while experiencing a sense of security.
Online dictionaries define “security” as freedom from danger, freedom from fear or anxiety, the safety of a nation, company, etc., against espionage or sabotage, crime or attack.
I remember well when Michael Fagan in the early hours of July 9, 1982, broke into Buckingham Palace in Central London. The 31-year-old managed to evade electronic alarms as well as both palace and police guards. He entered the queen’s bedroom and sat upon the edge of her bed, talking to her for about 10 minutes.
Security — it always sounds nice in theory. Our current definition of security is wrapped up in our identity. Take away our security, which is based on appearances, and we panic. We literally cling to the word like a life raft, fooling ourselves into believing that money, job, houses, cars, credit cards, policies, etc., will save us. But what you have today can be gone tomorrow. Then what do you grab on to?
We’d be wise to redefine the word. Synonyms for security include confidence, certainty, assurance, conviction, safeguarding and protection. Good feeling words — almost like a parent would convey to a child.
Watch spirited young children at play and witness their carefree and fearless demeanor. They feel safe and secure because the majority of them know that their parents will do anything to protect them.
What happens when a cat needs rescuing from a sky-high tree branch? Or 33 miners are trapped underground for two months? Or a town is devastated and heartbroken from the loss of 20 young beautiful children and six adults senselessly murdered?
We come together. We pray. We rally ‘round and focus our energy on the solution, recovery and healing. We are Americans. That is who we are, and that is what we do.
Forging our way through 2013, we are challenged as never before with globalization, the information technology revolution, our mounting debt of more than $16 trillion and entitlement burdens, rising health-care costs and the development of new energy sources.
We know we can’t climb out of this mess by throwing more money at our problems. The solutions require, to be sure, risk taking, entrepreneurship and innovation. The foundation, however, for America to emerge as the renewed leader of the free world needs to be based on our inner resolve.
We as a nation must be willing to safeguard and protect each other. We must use our will for the good of the people. To know that in tough times we are there for one another. To know when you can’t take care of yourself that others will. To know that the tables can turn in a heartbeat and you might be next in line for hardship.
When we come together in unity the door will swing open allowing us the freedom to entertain and explore new frontiers and possibilities beyond the false sense of material security that we still desperately cling to.
America’s security lies in our invincible spirit. And that very spirit made visible will determine our destiny.