A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive messages for America’s youth — our exceptionalism through hope

Columns for families based on the book It Can Be Done @studentsleadusa

Hope can serve as an antidote for negative people and negative social media. In America, we have solid reasons to be hopeful about the future. Just look at our low unemployment and our economy’s strong growth.

Americans have opportunities to earn on the job, by owning and selling property, including stocks in companies, or by starting businesses. Nowadays, just about everyone who wants a job, including young people, seems to be able to find one.

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America’s economic system breeds hope, partly because of our freedoms to buy and sell things like goods, services, and labor. We have the freedom to make thousands of choices, including our work, what we buy, where we live and much, much more. The incentives we have to find new opportunities to do better helped us build the world’s largest economy.

But that’s not how it works everywhere. In some countries, people chose a person’s place in life at birth. A child of a janitor likely became a janitor. Being a janitor is an honorable job, but it’s wrong for somebody to choose a job for us. In many other countries, government control has crushed hope, restricting even personal things like religion and the ability to have children. Thank goodness our government doesn’t control or pre-determine our future.

With freedom, work, determination, and responsible decisions in life, most people do succeed. Even if we start out with some things tough, we don’t have to end up there. A Harvard University study found that in many different parts of the country, over 10 percent of Americans who start off in families at bottom income levels move all the way up to the top income levels. For many decades, in America, each generation did better than their parents on average.

We have done well, but some people won’t be happy with America until everyone succeeds. While it’s natural to want everyone to succeed, each person plays a major role in their own success story. We can’t condemn America’s entire system because some people, whether because of bad choices or other circumstances, struggle. The government, along with tens of millions of Americans, helps people in need each day through programs and charities. This inspires more hope.

Meanwhile, negative, hopeless people will enter our lives and will try to bring us down to their level. There’s an old saying, “Misery loves company.” It’s true. But if somebody says you can’t succeed, don’t listen. They don’t understand you and they don’t understand America. American author and political activist Helen Keller started with nothing and fought to overcome an inability to see, hear, or talk. This exceptional American knew about hope, famously stating, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

With the energy of youth, an abiding sense of hope can help propel us forward. We can choose to think of life like artists starting with a blank canvas. We can fill the canvas with strokes, colors, and styles of our own choosing. No one’s stopping us from painting our own versions of masterpieces which may someday affect the landscape of our entire community.

Join us next week when we explore the common ground of respecting religion. Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a recipient of its Frontiersman Award. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky.

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