Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Fair Shot Heard ‘Round the World

State of the Union addresses have never been my thing, from the artificial standing ovation that eventually spreads to both sides of the aisle to the shameless, pompous politicking of not only the President, but of the many after speech commentaries provided by politicians for and against, as well as the almost infinite number of TV talking heads that think they’re smarter than us. Keith Olbermann or Bill O’Reilly, anyone? Child, please.

As a kid, I used to tell my parents that if a network had the stones to put entertainment programming on against the State of the Union, they would kill in the ratings. Sure, such a move would severely hamper the reputation of a network’s news division, but since when does the news pay the bills at a network?

President Obama’s address on Tuesday night didn’t disappoint my low expectations. He certainly got my attention, although perhaps not in the manner that his team of speech writers might have intended. “We can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

Cue record scratching.

What was that? (Hit rewind on DVR)

Fair shot?

Have we collectively sunk so low as to where we’re bemoaning needing a “fair shot?” Seriously, since when do Americans sit back and cry about wanting a fair shot? This country was built by people who proactively took the shots and called the shots. That’s why most of us moved here, and more of us do every single day.

Our American heroes, both real and fictionalized, are ones who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and persevered, fighting through, and eventually accomplishing goals and fulfilling dreams. From Walter Mitty to John Wayne, from Henry Ford to Warren Buffet, from Famous Amos to maybe you, we’re a country about go-getters and action, accountability and responsibility. For the love of God, we didn’t collectively sit through six Sylvester Stallone portraits of Rocky for nothing, did we?

Now, this isn’t a Republican versus Democratic in an election year rant, although full disclosure will have me tell you I didn’t vote for our current president last time around. Full disclosure will also suggest that doesn’t mean I won’t vote for him this time around, for there’s ample time to decide who’s best prepared to lead our country to where it needs to go, and at this point in time I am very open minded and undecided. But, this I’m certain of: we don’t need any talk about “fair shots.”

You get no more fair shot in this world than in America. If you don’t believe it, get yourself some luggage, perhaps a U-Haul or something, and get out and try it someplace else. Just do yourself the favor of not burning your bridges, because you most likely will be coming back.
America has been, and continues to be, the land of opportunity. Only, there is one requirement to seize upon all the potential out there waiting for you. It’s simple. Go grab it. Get off your lazy, pampered, self-entitled ass and work hard.

Sorry to break it to you, but Andy Warhol was wrong. Everyone is not going to be famous for fifteen minutes. You won’t have a camera crew follow you around like you’re a second-coming of the Kardashians. You won’t answer the door one day and open it to a letter informing you that you just inherited $100 million from a long-lost relative.

Success is predicated on smart, hard work. Now, “occupying” some place is certainly hard work – who wants to live in a cardboard box in the middle of winter, relieving yourself in the bushes, and searching daily for an AC outlet? But, it’s not smart. Instead of using your iPad - poor, pitiful, hopeless disenchanted 99%-er, with your glorified toys and 4G necessity of a phone – to poke your network of not-so-friendly friends into joining a pointless protest, how about using it to network for a … wait for it … a job? One that pays you for your work. Use those same skills of organization and communication and put them to work in a productive manner.

Making your own shot, calling your own shots, and making success happen will allow you to one day pay taxes to accommodate the next generation of even more self-righteous, self-entitled knuckleheads who embark on costly protests of the mean, hard, un-fair life of Americans.

President Obama, if you want to earn my vote, you need to change your messaging, and actually just slightly. I don’t want to give anyone a “fair shot,” for I don’t want to further a habit of giving. Give a knucklehead a fish, feed the knucklehead for a day; teach the knucklehead to fish, feed the knucklehead for a lifetime. Forget talk about giving a “fair shot.” Rather, let’s equip our citizens with the tools and go-get-‘em attitude to take advantage of the plentiful shots, opportunities, that are so readily available, there for the taking save for a little work ethic and determination.

And for those you waiting for your “fair shot,” please, grow up and take a little responsibility. Don’t be afraid to scrap your knuckles and strain your back. Go find your passion, reach your potential, and live your life. It’s not going to be given to you by a benevolent, paternalistic government. Rather, it’s already there, like a buried treasure. It’s up to you to pick up the shovel and find it.

I’m waiting to take you best shot on Twitter @RayHartjen

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