14 Jan 2014
- Written by Herbert Lester
Would you believe me if I said I thought you could be a "magnet?" As human beings, I believe we all have the capacity to draw to ourselves those things we give the most thought and energy, those things we are passionate about. In other words, each of us is in many ways potentially a magnet. We attract things to ourselves that may include prosperity.
In pursuit of my hypothesis, I did a Google search of "job magnet" and found over 53 million results! I did the same thing for "success magnet," finding over 300,000 hits. My point is this: In order for us to survive what Grace Lee Boggs calls "The Next American Revolution," we are going to have to become magnets that draw goodness and prosperity into our communities and our homes and our schools, or we will soon not have them at all.
Boggs is a 96-year-old activist that has been in the struggle for freedom and human dignity for most of her life. She lives in Detroit and has been part of that city's starting of its comeback. She has seen people at the grassroots level realize that their future is in their own hands and that the days of the factory job, which provided a job for you and your children and their children until retirement, is no more.
Boggs likewise has seen these same people become entrepreneurs, community developers and masters of their own destinies. So must we.
First, however, let me be clear. What I mean by passion is not magic, wishing or even the power of positive thinking. I mean passion and drive manifested in hard work and sweat equity, in preparation and creativity; I mean finding a need and filling it better than anyone else can. As Emerson said so many years ago: "If a (person) can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap, than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door."
The Greater Memphis Chamber reports that thousands of jobs go unfilled in Memphis each month because there are not people qualified to fill them. These are jobs that pay an hourly wage 2-3 times the minimum wage, with benefits that people can be trained to fill. Before the training, there must be the passionate desire to do better and succeed.
Meanwhile, wealth in America continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. According to a 2010 University of Southern California study, 20 percent of the population held 95 percent of the wealth, with 80 percent of the people having the remaining 5 percent. The breakdown gets even more interesting when you consider that the top 1 percent of the population controls 42 percent of the financial wealth.
President Barack Obama, is talking a lot about income disparity and the redistribution of this accumulated wealth. The Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewel, is attempting to raise $20 million dollars in private funds to start a new Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) like President Roosevelt did during the Great Depression to help the unemployed and to train a new generation of environmentalist.
I wish them both well in their endeavors, but in the end, I side with Boggs, who says in essence no one will do for us what we will not do for ourselves.