Hope is a very powerful thing that can not be measured by the dollars in your pocket or the cars in your garage. It is an abstract concept of aspiring for something more or better in one's life; a wish, expectation, or goal that is instilled in the hearts and minds of individuals.
As I travel the country and hear from hundreds of communities and their respective leaders, it is evident that people have lost a significant degree of hope. Regarding the recent events in Baltimore, we witnessed rioters who saw an opportunity to loot and fill their pockets, as they most likely didn't feel like they would get the chance to do so in a legitimate way at a future time. These people are easy to manipulate, and that is because they lack true hope. There are people in Baltimore, though, who do maintain hope. These are men and women who helped clean up the streets with brooms, buckets and the like. They formed a physical barrier between the police lines and the various demonstrators to prevent further trouble from occurring. Sadly, I saw very little coverage of their bravery in the national media.
We need to bring real hope back to this great nation. There needs to be a prevalence of the kinds of things that actually allow people to be elevated out of a dependent and dismal situation, thus enabling them to partake in the American dream. So, how do we undertake this formidable yet viable task of bringing hope to communities where it is absent? Firstly, let us stop demonizing people and put our thinking caps on. We need to figure out how to make the tide rise for everybody because it ultimately benefits us all. If we do not have a large number of people who are dependent, then as a result taxpaying citizens do not have to give as much money, and those who abandon dependency become a part of the American fabric. These talented yet under-utilized individuals may discover a cure for cancer or a new energy source. It is important to acknowledge that China and India boast populations that combine for over 2.5 billion people. Our country contains a mere 330 million. It comes as no surprise that we have to develop and utilize all our citizens in order to compete with other nations. We have to encourage and foster growth for every single one of our individuals, or the lack of hope that pervades America will only continue to increase.
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It is also vital to recognize that we, as a nation, were making enormous progress in this country from the post-slavery era right up until the 1960s. Strong families, values and principles are what held us together. Then suddenly such progression came to an abrupt halt and started receding. Much of that can be attributed to the culture that has been created by government simply throwing money at situations and problems without an exhaustive thought process. Removing people from the state of dependency and instilling in them genuine hope requires relationships, not money. There are many examples around the country that are generally started by the private sector, whether it be through business, industry, academia, Wall Street, churches, or community groups. We must continue to have these entities embrace their fellow human beings.
Growing up in Detroit and inner-city Boston, I have been exposed to a lot of trauma. I think when you find a situation where there are high concentrations of people stricken by poverty, you are likely to see the kind of problems we see in Baltimore and many of our other inner cities. It doesn't matter what the predominant racial makeup is of that community; you will find a lot of conflict and the troubles we are currently seeing. It would be interesting to ask people who live in safe neighborhoods with good schools the following questions: How hungry would you watch your children become before you felt compelled to break into a grocery store or steal from another person? How many months of unemployment would it take before you lost faith that a new job even existed? If you were trapped on a block where people were regularly murdered, what wouldn't you do to protect yourself and your family? Luckily, many of us never have to answer these questions, but some people indeed face these trying problems on a daily basis.
The way to address pent-up anger and frustration is to deal with the basic economic issues that provide people with a mechanism to climb out of a state of reliance. People should be thinking for themselves and not permitting others to think for them. Once we grasp and endorse the principles and values that provide actual strength for the community, only then will we endure and observe the decency and hope this nation was built upon.
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