Amid this holiday season of reflection, I’m thinking about America’s future.
A new poll from Gallup serves up some sobering data regarding how young Americans feel about their country.
Gallup asked the question, “Do you think the U.S. has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world, or don’t you think so?”
Eighty percent said “yes,” America is the greatest country, in 2010, and 78 percent said yes in 2018.
However, among 18- to 34-year-olds, 80 percent said yes in 2010, but this dropped by 18 percentage points in 2018 to 62 percent.
It’s troubling to think that now 4 out of 10 young Americans do not see their nation as exceptional and the greatest in the world.
Maybe there is a sense creeping into our youth that America is no longer the land of opportunity it once was.
In a 2017 Pew Research Global Attitudes and Trends survey, only 37 percent of Americans said they believed so when asked, “When children today grow up, will they be better off financially than their parents?” This compared with 82 percent in China (in 2016), 69 percent in Chile and 50 percent in Israel.
According to recent data from the Brookings Institution, just 50 percent of those born in 1984 earn more than their parents, compared with 61 percent of those born in 1970 and 79 percent of those born in 1950.
But if America’s youth are losing a sense that this is a land of dreams, this sentiment doesn’t seem to be shared by the million immigrants who arrive in the U.S. every year.
According to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, 55 percent of privately held startup companies in the U.S. now worth more than a billion dollars were started by immigrants from 25 different countries.
The study reports that the collective value of these firms founded by immigrants is $248 billion, and each company employs an average of 1,200 people.
Most of these immigrant entrepreneurs came to the U.S. to study as international students and chose to stay and become citizens. However, some arrived as refugees and were sponsored by family members.
This all tells me that America is still a land of dreams and opportunity. Are there things wrong with this country? Certainly. But there still is plenty that is right.
Those who choose to uproot from nations all over the world to come here and start their lives anew are interested in what is right, not what is wrong.
I like this quote from former TV personality Art Linkletter, who observed, “Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
There’s an important point here. Success is not just about one’s circumstances, but also what is happening inside of each individual – one’s character.
The holidays are a good time to think about this.
I suggest two things. First, let’s look at what is right about America. And second, let every American ask themselves if they truly believe they are the best they can be, and if not, why not?
Let’s each take personal responsibility to make ourselves and our country as great as possible and stop thinking that it’s others and circumstances that block our path.
I think the nation would soar, even with the things that are wrong, if all Americans got out of bed each morning with the sense that what happens to them is not because of anything but what they themselves choose to do. And, if at the same time, we related to ourselves and everyone else as created in the image of God.
We all would discover how much power each of us has and we all would discover how great America is, because it is free.