New Year’s Choice: Strength Or Fear?

As we enter 2024, we’re faced with a choice: strength or fear. What we choose will determine our future for decades to come.

Background

For the past several years we, in the U.S., have been fed a deluge of messages of fear, anxiety, frustration and victimization. Yet, during these same years, hundreds of thousands of people are making incredibly dangerous journeys over a thousand miles or more to get to the U.S. in hopes of gaining a better life.

The first question is “What gives these people the strength to make these perilous journeys while we, in the United States, enjoying what others aspire to, live in such great fear?” The simple answer is that the former’s strength comes from an expectation of gain while the latter fear loss. Are these perspectives accurate? Let’s explore both to find out.

Strength

What is it that we possess that gives these immigrants the strength to pursue gain? They want:

  • Freedom from dictatorial governments that not only prevent them from benefitting from their skills and abilities, but often threaten their very existence.
  • A safe environment for their families.
  • Opportunities for themselves and their children.
  • Greater control over their livelihood and a future of their own making.
  • An opportunity to employ their work ethic and creativity not only for themselves, but for their communities and family members who may not have been able to join them on their journey.

Immigrants realize that in the U.S., we have:

  • More job opportunities than people to fill them.
  • Greater freedom to utilize our skills, abilities and creativity than anywhere else in the world.
  • The freedom to choose who we want to represent us in government.
  • Far greater opportunities for our children than anywhere else in the world.

Are these the things that many in the U.S. fear losing?

Fear

I believe that the people in the U.S. who believe the messages of fear, anxiety, frustration and victimization are afraid of losing control and their culture. Are these legitimate concerns?

The vast majority of people seeking citizenship in the U.S. already share the values that we possess. They value:

  • Freedom
  • Hard work
  • Opportunity
  • Family
  • Safety
  • Meritocracy

That’s why they suffer thousand-mile perilous journeys to get here. These shared values are complementary to our value system. Our values will be enhanced and solidified by their acceptance into citizenship. Our immigration system has to be upgraded to enable us to quickly ascertain which of those entering our borders share these values and those that don’t; the latter being quickly expelled from our country.

In addition to our values being supported and enhanced by our acceptance of immigrants who share our values, we gain the benefits of other culture’s traditions and insights. Who among us doesn’t enjoy Cinco de Mayo celebrations?

With these insights into cultural impact, let’s explore the loss-of-control fear. Those suggesting that we would lose control would have us ignore these facts:

  • No one can take from us the skills, abilities and creativity that have resulted in the success we enjoy.
  • As we progress in our skills and abilities, we want people to do tasks that we now consider menial. Immigrants who share our work ethic are grateful for the opportunity to do any task that enables them to build a better life for themselves and their families.
  • The work that immigrants are willing to do, free our time to advance our economy through our enhanced skills, ability and creativity.
  • As immigrants with shared values become citizens, they will seek the same values in their political representatives…regardless of ethnicity.

Counterclaims

Those who choose fear will undoubtedly say that I have a Polyannish view of life, that I’m overly optimistic about human nature. There’s no doubt that I’m optimistic by nature, but that optimism is based on what I’ve observed. Historically, good has always prevailed over evil. Why? Because good energizes while evil exhausts.

You don’t have to take my word for it, recall a time when you, from a position of strength, helped someone in need. What did you experience? Joy, excitement and newfound energy? Now recall a time when you were dealing with someone with inexplicable fear or ill intentions. What did you feel? Fear, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion?

I don’t have to provide answers to these questions, we both know what you experienced. The question is “Which are you going to choose, not only in this new year, but for the rest of your life?

For you

We will be voting this year for people who will occupy positions of power in our government. Will your choices be based on strength or fear? Will you vote from a position of strength…a belief in your ability to successfully compete with others as you always have. Or will you suddenly, and inexplicably, choose to fear those who are willing to do work you are no longer interested in doing?

Will you be voting from your strength in the conviction of your values or from fear of loss of control…knowing that control is an illusion? We can’t control anything other than our own behavior.

If you choose strength, you can solidify it’s position in your thinking by beginning each day with these thoughts:

  • No one can take from me the skills, abilities and creativity I possess.
  • I’m continuously improving my skills and abilities so that I continue to enjoy success in the future.
  • Those whose work is similar to mine are not competitors, they’re potential teachers. As I observe their work, I can accelerate the attainment of new skills and abilities.

At the end of the day, shortly before retiring, remind yourself again of these thoughts. You’ll quickly (typically within a week) find that this becomes your default way of thinking. That will assure that you are always approaching things from a position of strength.

For our kids

Live this message; it’s our actions that kids mimic. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day to share the thoughts above with your kids, then again shortly before bed time. That way they too will develop the habit of choosing from strength, not fear.

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Readers would love to see your thoughts and experiences in a comment.

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