Saving Humanity One Place at a Time and Rebuilding the American Dream
On account of us being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years no matter what it does.
—Will Rogers, American Entertainer and Humorist
From reading the newspaper, watching television, or listening to the radio, it should be clear that the unsettling situation America finds itself in today has presented us with several conundrums. We are concerned about where our nation is headed, how to make a living, how to prepare for retirement, how to create a better life for our families today, and how to leave our posterity with an inheritance of economic opportunities.
The global economy has created more chaos and hardships than most of us have previously experienced. Not since the Great Depression have folks been so beleaguered by so many tumultuous problems. Even more devastating is the degradation of our main pillar of humanity, our core: the family unit. With the massive amount of unemployment and underemployment that has arisen in this perfect economic storm, many of us have burned through our benefit claims, extensions, and options. We face loss of income and also hope and self-dignity. These immense problems have made many of us rethink our values and dreams. In the worst of cases, we have given up the ideal of aspiring for a better life—not only for ourselves, but also for our children. The economic pressures are not the only problems in this perfect storm. We face burgeoning pressure from religious zealots who are not tolerant of religious differences. We face environmental calamities, both natural and man-made. In addition, the resources that we depend on to fuel our global economy, such as energy, are peaking in costs and diminishing in availability.
To further frustrate and annoy our already overloaded psyches, we have a complete lack of trust in our governmental systems. People are weary of the either/or partisan politics and government’s failure to look out for our best interests. Many folks see the crazies and zealots at each end of the political spectrum as a gridlock that cannot be resolved. Our politicians continue paying more attention to the special interests that most folks feel helped create the economic chaos. The real and perceived corruption of those who claim to create the jobs, make the policies, and take our hard-earned money through taxes for governance have led us to distrust politicians. Along with our distrust of government, we distrust employers and other institutions, such as the media, banking, and health care organizations. The blame game is running rampant, and still no economic changes have taken hold to correct our course. We are quickly approaching the tipping point, and without a major overhaul, the American Dream could become a real-life nightmare. We could see the flow of money drying up, people losing their buying power, businesses folding at a record pace, and possible food rioting in the streets.
How am I different from other doomsayers? I feel that fear is not what inspires men and women to action; although it is helpful to recognize potential consequences, men and women must be inspired by higher motives than fear to rebuild a fractured economy and society. So more than simply pointing out the problems, The Next America contains solutions to troubles that beset us today. The Next America suggests that although inconvenient, we can rebuild our economy. We always have.
Rebuilding our society to be responsible for the future and to create economic opportunities today so we can support a sound and happy family core tomorrow must be the main objective. Humanity deserves to have access to quality education, affordable health care, economic opportunities, and recreational activities. Rebuilding our country to include these privileges comes with risks, but the risks of failure far outweigh the risks of not acting at all. Rebuilding does not require a shift to bigger government or a more socialistic government; rather, it requires a better, more honest government that is in tune with economic realities, moral convictions, and our spirit of capitalism.
It is good to remember that humankind makes its decisions based upon three sides of human nature: fear, greed, and natural honor or bravery; the decision-making process is additionally affected by the caliber of the moral compass an individual possesses and by his or her underlying belief in God’s own requirements of us all. If it were not for these counterbalances, our world would quickly revert to the dark ages of savagery and warlords. The recent corruption of our political systems threatens to undermine our common voice, a voice trying to make sure that all are treated equally and are equally able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action: natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punishment.
—George Washington, from a Letter to the President of Congress, February 9, 1776
In order to establish our collective best interests, we have to start at the grassroots level—within our own families, communities, and companies—and make strategic decisions about how to create the future we want not only for us but also for our children.
I have often discussed in my previous books my mantra that world-class communities of all shapes and sizes are possible today. World-class communities are not determined by population, geographic location, and/or availability of natural resources. They are created by the quality of the local community’s vision and the mind-set of the local leaders and decision-makers who set the policies that will determine the course of the community. Communities must focus on charting their own courses and investing in themselves; they must not wait for outside assistance. The communities that act locally will win globally in the twenty-first-century economy.
This book is for those communities.
Excerpted from "The Next America: Moving Beyond a Fragile Economy" by Don A. Holbrook. Copyright © 2011 by Don A. Holbrook. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.