Tag Archives: opportunity

The answer is in diversity

America is a nation that was built on diversity. It wasn’t something that was a choice or a point in the nation’s history where a vote was held to allow immigrants to start coming in. No, America has been a land of freedom for immigrants all through the many years of its history.

Having people from all around the world living and working in one country, with different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs means an absolute necessity to come together with respect, tolerance and understanding. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to become who the other person is but it means that each person does need to understand each others’ differences and learn to respect those and realize that each person has many likenesses and common goals which is what drives America to move forward.

America has always been known as the land of opportunity and has been looked to for its great medical advances, technological advances, freedoms and many other qualities that have been part of what has made America a place of growth, opportunity and achievement.

What gives that edge to America? America has qualified input from its citizens and residents that reside here from all over the world. Everyone that comes here brings with them their expertise, their dreams, goals and determination to have a better life. Whether they come here to be a doctor, a scientist, a student, an engineer, a chef or whatever they desire to be, they become part of the American fabric.

Too often, a person is judged by the way they speak or the way they look or by what part of history their culture or religion has played in America’s past but has that individual personally been part of that history?

Why should they be judged? Why would their religion be held responsible for a group of extremist?

Throughout America, look around, there are many different people. Different races, cultures, religions and with each person there is a story. Until people take time to talk to each other, there is no way of knowing who the other person is. There is no reason to judge someone without knowing that particular individual, not by something that someone said or what someone may think but by talking to them and knowing them individually.
Without this effort and getting to know those around this great land of diversity and culture, a lot of what America has to offer is being put to the wayside and being wasted. So many people are in the shadows.
Showing respect, tolerance and understanding may be the best thing to start moving the U.S. out of the struggles it seems to be stuck in. This is not just something to learn when it comes to working within different cultures, races, religions and beliefs. This is also true when working with anyone, for any reason. This is true within our political parties, our Congress and our House. This is true in our schools with our young people. This is true within the workplace. This should just be part of daily life in America.

It starts with wanting to make a difference, stop arguing, end hate and intolerance and be willing to do what it takes to move America forward and making life better for everyone and each generation to come.

The best America has to offer may be one conversation away, one handshake away or one smile away.

 

Is the "American Dream" still possible?

Sure, there are those that have opportunity made available either by family means due to inheritance or acquaintances, people that have opportunities come to them because of their looks (i.e. models or actors that are just approached at some point) and of course those very rare occurrences of a lottery win or hitting the jackpot! Who doesn’t have that dream?

However, the belief has always been that if a person had set goals, studied and worked hard they could accomplish the “American Dream.” Many people have grown up and done just that and have lived to tell their own version of the “American Dream” and many people have come to the United States from every other country for that reason and have accomplished their dreams as well.

Although the dream may be different for each individual, basically the idea was being able to get an education, find a career, buy a home, have a family and work toward a decent retirement at an age a person could still enjoy a retirement.

Between a retirement plan at a person’s job and social security, a person could plan on retiring as long as they had worked along the lines of saving towards their goals. The “American Dream” seemed to be within reach more and more through the years. Even when times were hard through the 80’s and 90’s, people continued to work hard and focus on what lied ahead because that is what they had been taught to do and it still seemed promising, enough.

 

As the younger generations have been raised, their parents have brought them up with the understanding to get an education, work hard at your job, set money aside and you can plan toward retirement. The question of whether social security would be around for retirement for the younger generation was causing concern so people were leaning more toward investments and attaining a higher level of education to move along further in a career. “Hard work pays off”, was said to be the key to success.

 

However, is this something to plan on? How solid is long-term planning? How solid are a person’s investments? Is the “American Dream” something to even strive for anymore? Is it possible?

 

Not to sound pessimistic, but here are some recent lessons learned.

 

Many companies let their long term employees go along with their benefits and pension plans. Financially, it saves more to keep those employees with lesser benefits and lower pay doing the same job.

A big investment for an individual or family is their home. However, if that investment suddenly depreciates at the same time a person has their hours cut at their job or loses their job and they find themselves unable to pay the mortgage, that investment is suddenly the hook, line and sinker that leads them to bankruptcy. The home that was once a part of their “American Dream” is suddenly a part of a terrible nightmare.

 

Unemployment or even being cut back to part-time from full time can take a person’s health benefits or for an employer trying to keep their employees but still cut back cost, an employer might just cut healthcare across the board. Health care cost for people without insurance causes more bankruptcies than most anything else. Bankruptcy can take everything away from a person they have worked so hard to attain. That definitely isn’t part of the “American Dream” and having this happen to a person isn’t something anyone would plan on.

Many people that have been planning for retirement, saving for retirement or putting aside for that “rainy day”, have either ended up having to use that money to replace lost income, increased bills due to possible loss of benefits, or possibly helping out friends or family that are facing financial crisis. It is a good chance that everyone knows someone facing a financial crisis due to the recent recession. The economy is still in a crisis and so are families, small business and therefore America.

The “American Dream” to those that have lost a job and cannot find work is simply to hear, “you’re hired”. Ask the 99ers. These are people that have been without work 99 weeks or more. To have a group, a large group of people that have formed a name and been on several news networks now because they have not been able to acquire work for that long shows how bad the job market still is.
For those that have been able to keep their job and benefits, the concern lingers about how steady their employment is and how steady the economy is.

For those still owning their home, the concern lies with how steady the housing market is, home values, property taxes and what will happen with homeowners insurance. What is around the corner?
People are concerned, very concerned. Voters are concerned about the choices in Washington D.C. and what the consequences of those choices will be. What will be the long term effects of today’s decisions and the lack of decisions? Who are the politicians looking out for, really?
 What is today’s “American Dream”?

 

Help for America Pt. 3 – The "Working Poor"

Having a job in today’s economy and current job crisis is an enormous step toward solving a person’s financial hardships, right?

For many Americans, going to work every day, bringing home a paycheck and doing everything they can to support their family is far from enough. They find themselves in the category, the “working poor”.

Many working families live below the poverty level. As inflation has gone up, the cost of gas, heating, mortgage or rent, electric and overall the cost of living, their rate of pay has not increased near the rate of inflation.

To leave one job to find another is just not possible and even finding a second job is not always an option or a possibility.

Many families are struggling to pay only the basic utilities, as well as rent or mortgage and taking away from items like clothing, medicine and even groceries. This is living in America as the working poor. More often, this is becoming a reality for more people in the richest country in the world.

In 2008 there were 39.8 million Americans who lived below the poverty level according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New data will come in from the new Census Data collected this year.

The 2010 Poverty Guidelines from the CMS.gov state that in order to fall below the poverty level a family of four would need to make below $1,837.50 per month or less to be considered fully at poverty level. For more or less family members, the income is adjusted and there are different levels of poverty. 39,800,000 Americans fell into this category in 2008 and since then the economy fell more into a slump. Did these numbers rise?

To look around a community, workplace, school, church or anyplace people are gathered a person may not be able to pick out the “working poor” families. They are everyday Americans working hard to support their families, keep their utilities from getting turned off, their children happy and safe and they have goals and dreams like anyone else. They watch the news and hear how the economy is changing both in good ways or bad ways and like everybody else, they want so badly for things to turn around and improve.

Many of these families were middle class families not too long ago. Due to the financial crisis, they have now found themselves living in a situation they had never planned on living. What they were planning for is now a distant memory.

America is a country that was established on opportunity and freedom. Working Americans want the opportunity to move ahead and live, providing for themselves and their children and plan for their future.
It is always said to “set aside for a rainy day”. The opportunity needs to be there to not only live each day and take care of a person’s family and responsibilities that day but also to be able to plan ahead for what may come up or just to be able to have a “nest egg” set aside, plan for a child’s college fund or take care of things to insure prevention of larger bills due to neglect (i.e. insurance on vehicles, rentals, dental, appliances, etc.)

For 39.8 million Americans, it has been a “rainy day” for a long time and although many are extremely grateful to have a job to work each day, they want to be able to take care of their families and responsibilities as well. In a great country like America, with so many resources, it doesn’t make sense to have so many families that are working to still be struggling and living below the poverty level.

America has always been a Nation to be able to come back stronger and show its resilience through tough times. But, for this to work, things have to work as a whole and not as a part. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, America has to stand strong together and for each other through each community, state and Nationwide.

Part Four of this series will be pretty shocking to read. Stay tuned.

The past and future is in the Bay Area’s rich cultural diversity

The Bay Area and its surroundings are what postcards are made of, not only for its natural beauty and historical areas but also for the numerous amusement parks and endless shopping availability. The Bay Area has it all. For the Bay Area’s residents however, this is just a few of the many assets to their advantage.

In a follow-up to my previous article, another asset the Bay Area has is its rich cultural diversity. To go around the Bay Area and its surrounding counties, it is easy to find nearly any type of ethnic cuisine a person would want or any grocery item for a recipe. There are constant festivals going on and this of course, is a popular tourist attraction as well. But, it has been so much more for the area’s history and it can be an even greater asset to the Bay Area’s future.

To grow up around diversity is to have a chance of growth everyday in one’s life with the development of key skills necessary in life such as compassion for others, tolerance, understanding and the desire to reach out to learn, educate, help and be there for each other every day for anyone. It’s a chance to build core values as well as to learn about different cultures having not even traveled to those distant places. It is having a chance to see a friend as a friend and a doctor as a doctor and not looking at them differently because of where they may be from but smiling and loving them just because they made you feel better. That’s what it was like for me growing up in the Bay Area.

The future of the Bay Area and its opportunities are all still there and even more so because of the growth that is happening by leaps and bounds. Also, the cultural expansion is even more diverse than ever before. When someone brings their profession from someplace else, let’s say to the medical field, engineering, communications, etc, they bring with them their outside expertise. As an American travels abroad to work, they take their expertise with them to help overseas. This is the same thing, yet reversed.

The Bay Area has the opportunity to be the leader in how to make diversity work for everyone and to show this both locally, nationally and internationally. Although than words can make changes, actions will make a remarkable and lasting difference. By making efforts in the work place, in schools and just around town, word will spread. Changes can happen on Twitter in 140 characters or less quite rapidly as everyone has seen. Good changes are the ones the Bay Area wants to get noted for and right now, the U.S. can use positive example. Tampa can be the positive influence for the state, the nation and the world.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

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