To quote Wikipedia, Manifest Destiny, for those of you unfamiliar, was "the belief that the United States was destined to expand from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean."
I've always thought that this was a rather anti-climactic definition for what was otherwise a really cool-sounding concept. Kind of lame, even. Say it out loud: "manifest destiny." Sounds super cool, right? And then you find out that it's just about acquiring territory in the birth of our country, and while that's impressive, I want to use the phrase for something different.
I am therefore proposing a new concept, which I will refer to as "personal manifest destiny." This is my belief that the people of the United States are destined to expand their minds and capabilities from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. This is a rather fruity way of saying that I think Americans are capable of a lot more than what we're doing right now. Maybe it's NAFTA, and the export of jobs to China and India that have got me thinking.....we're supposed to be a society of self-starters, entrepreneurs, and innovators. And lately - OK, in the last 30 years or so - I feel like people have gotten lazy. This is not an accusation or a criticism on any one group or thing in particular, but just a philosophy that I've come to settle on. I feel like one of the reasons that Americans have evolved into such voracious consumers is because we have no idea how much it takes to produce whatever we consume. We've outsourced those jobs and most of us never see the inside of a manufacturing facility.
All of this meandering thought on my part is to say the following: I think Americans have forgotten what hard work is like. I think we could benefit from learning a trade, taking an apprenticeship, picking up a hammer, or getting a little dirty. I think there are many people in this country with unrealized skills or gifts that would flourish in jobs they may have never considered before. And I think this realization is going to be critical in the months ahead as the country flounders in - just admit it - a recession like we haven't seen in a long time.
Our grandparents made it through the Great Depression AND fought a war that saved the world. What have we done lately? Gone to Starbucks? I think it's time we roll up our sleeves, take a deep breath, and get to work. Embrace your personal manifest destiny, and find the work that is fulfilling to you, and hopefully it is helpful to society as well. Americans are capable and intelligent people* and we'll come out better for it on the other end, as long as we persevere.
*I can't vouch for people who voted for Bush twice. I wouldn't describe these folks as intelligent.