Risky Business

The story of how risk is essential for the American Dream.

By John M. from Royal Oak High School in Michigan

          John M.

         Before my Grandfather came to this country, he was an electrical engineer in Denmark working as a teacher. He found my Grandmother there at the age of 25 and, after no small amount of convincing, they married. Much like the song by the Turtles, they were happy together, but he was faced with a choice. See, the American government really wanted electro antenna professors and would be happy to have him in America so he could work for them on some cool stuff. He had to make a tough decision, leave the place he had called home for his entire life the place / the only place where he spoke fluently, or take that step, that leap into the unknown in hopes for a better life. He took that leap and, if you can tell from the fact that your reading this, was worth it. He did get a job in the government and found a roof over his head. A few years later he continued being a professor, this time in Ohio state university. And now, Grandma wanted some little kids of her own. The opportunity given to him would change his life forever, and for better or worse, he would make it his own. It doesn't happen for everyone though. Some people make the leap, reach as far as they can, and still end up short. But the point is not whether or not you succeed in your endeavor. The American way is to take opportunity by the reins and steer it to your own horizon.

Changes are happening all the time; changes in opinion, in diet, in lifestyle. Some changes are big and others small but all change does something. The question is what will it do. America was a british colony at first. It swore allegiance to the crown and the crown saw it as part of the Great British Empire (personally I think it was just good) and that was good ( or was it great?). But the crown taxed and tariffed the colony without representation (not a great call), and the colonies were unhappy with this, which wasn't great for Good Britain (which a lot of Americans though was still great by the way). Breaking their vow to Britain that they would remain loyal to the crown no matter what, the colonies declared their Independence. And boy did it pay off, eventually turning us into a boom country full of opportunity (though I hear we’re trying to “Make America Great Again”, and i'd settle for “Good”). Ever since the beginning, to be American meant taking the risk, attempting to make a better life for yourself at the expense of everything. Now, you may be thinking well, change happens everywhere. There is nothing exclusively American about taking risks and having them pay off, this article is stupid and inaccurate. And you're absolutely right, this is written like a five year old and it's based on personal opinion. However when your country's motto is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” I think we can all agree that it certainly is an aspect of America. Immigrants came where looking for a better life using every last cent they had, struggling with everyone else for a slice of life. It wasn't just immigrants either every American business is built on competition.

This may sound geriatric, scratch that, it will sound geriatric but the problem may stem from a lack of entrepreneurial spirit these days. There is far less drive to go out into the world and make a name for yourself, and why would you when you could go to four years of school and get a safe job. As Leigh Buchanan said on the state of entrepreneurship “concluded that the number of companies less than a year old had declined as a share of all businesses by nearly 44 percent between 1978 and 2012. And those declines swept across industries, including tech. Meanwhile, the Brookings Institution, also using Census data, established that the number of new businesses is down across the country and that more businesses are dying than are being born”. Not enough people are taking risks and it's stifling and stunting the country. The more people willing to rock the boat and change the way we live the better, because the risk takers are the ones the own tomorrow. The American dream isn't complacency in a world that could be better. To be an American means trying to make the world a better place for everyone. However identifying the problem simply isn't enough to solve the problem, we need to encourage young dreamers to make the world their oyster. We must help the new generation achieve the dream we all seek. Happiness. Wealth. And Freedom. 

Royal Oak High School

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