on Excuses

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts”. ~ Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), American broadcast journalist

This past weekend I watched the full speech given by Dr. Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 7th. In it he aligned his faith in the wisdom of God’s word with common sense principles that are so sorely needed in our government. He shared his life story, how he rose from poverty, the son of a single mother, and the expectations she had for him to be great. She instilled in him a “no excuses” attitude towards life, and he quickly learned that the only one ultimately responsible for his fate was himself.

He also shared how his mother encouraged reading, when she herself could not read, how she limited their TV time, and emphasized the importance of learning, and how at the same time it was important to remember that with God all things were possible. Their life may have been harder than most. And their friends may have made fun of them for their focus on education and the desire to be smart. But their Mom accepted no excuses. Their God accepted no excuses. So, neither would they.

The most interesting thing to watch during this speech was the body language of our President. Dr. Carson was extoling virtues that every American could respect and honor. He was the epitome of the American dream: a son of a black single mother who rose from poverty to become a doctor and achieved the American Dream of success. He was not that different from our President, with two exceptions. He never expected anyone to do the hard work for him and he gave credit to whom it was truly due: God. I noticed that our President looked uncomfortable.  It surely wasn’t because of this man’s life story, which was remarkable. I think it was because he was extolling something directly opposite of what the President believes: the power of the individual and Divine Providence instead of the power of the state and the collective. Dr. Carson put forth humble solutions to our country’s problems from a biblical basis, while our President merely offers pathetic excuses. Which do you think pushes a man towards greatness?

Are you allowing yourself to make excuses for your life’s circumstance? Do you blame your health, your job, your family, or your friends? Are you trying to reach solutions to your problems, push through them, or are you resigned to mediocrity, grumbling that others have it so much easier? Well, the American Dream does not come by holding out your hand and waiting for it to be given to you; it comes by reaching out and grabbing it for yourself. Maybe you do have a harder life. Perhaps your Dream is more difficult to obtain, and you have more to overcome. But no one has it easy. We all have struggles. Those you see having an easier life today maybe are just those that chose to put in the hard work earlier than you did.  Or maybe they just hide their struggle better because they don’t expect others to save them. Either way, you ultimately are responsible for your success and your joy. Not your spouse, not your family, not your neighbors, not your government. Excuses may make you feel more comfortable now, but they will not make you more successful later. Excuses do not bring change. Hard work and solutions do.

Our country has allowed far too many of its citizens (and non-citizens) to not only make excuses for their lot in life, but reward them for doing so. Like those little boys who made fun of Ben Carson for wanting to be smart, our government has been far too critical of those who are successful. It’s time to end the cycle of the victim and begin the cycle of the victor. We need to start celebrating those that achieve success, those who expect nothing more from their fellow taxpayers than an acknowledgement of a job well done. The heart of a victor is what made America great; the heart of a victim has no place here.

“People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.” ~ J. Michael Straczynski (b. 1954), American Producer and director for the TV industry

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