HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

June 11, 2007

It’s in the ordinary we find opportunity

The blood mobile and Relay for Life fundraiser in Delano were the places to be this week.

Delano was drenched in volunteerism. The same group of people you see working around Delano was hard at work again.

It’s amazing that when you grow up and live in a town like this, of this size, how easy it is to take things for granted. Because when you take a step back and examine what surrounds you, you will find there are so many hard working and caring people behind each event in our community, allowing Delano to have the character that it does.

This thought really struck me when I was visiting the blood drive at the Legion. Many people of our community and others took time out of their busy lives to organize the blood drive, each of them with one thing in common – they were giving at heart.

While I was giving blood, I met a man who brought a different light to volunteerism and the framework of our country.

He was my nurse, originally from Germany, and aside from the fact that he thought I was 15 and I had to convince him that I wasn’t lying on my medical information, that indeed I was 20, he was very kind.

He wore his heart on his sleeve and shared his entire life story with me, from his birth in Germany, his move to Russia, and his eventual settlement in Minnesota.

He told me that he came to Minnesota in pursuit of the land of opportunity—that “American Dream,” only to return to his country right away because Minnesota failed to offer the opportunities he sought. He did return again, but with fresh eyes and thicker skin.

Talking with this man made me pensive about the concept of the American Dream, and this land of opportunity.

He said something at the end of his story that has resonated in my mind, “I dunno, we all have two arms and two legs, you know.”

As if to simply say, we are all human, trying to do that same thing, to find the land of opportunity.

The concept of the American Dream is dissolving with the changing landscape of our culture and the institution of globalization and the exchange of ideas on a worldly scale.

Today, the US is not the only place capable of providing the things needed to succeed in life. The Internet and other global entities have made it possible to reach every part of the world, allowing the acquisition of new information.

But did the American Dream ever exist? Or is it just a mentality to have? Was our history just filled with people who had the desire to survive and took the necessary steps to do so?

The answer is apparent when you see the hard work and passion behind the volunteerism in our community.

As our nation changes and our country’s landscape transforms – getting more fast-paced, it is important to recognize those in pursuit of providing this land opportunity.

It is not the corporate big whigs, but the Gwens and the Marians that take time out of their busy lives to help with a blood drive. They are the people who solidify the American Dream. Their kindness and passion are what provide the opportunities possible in our country.

It’s this idea that, regardless of the path you choose, the passion that lies within a person and their ability to open their minds, is what allows for success. It is not the place (America) that allows things to happen.

There has never been a land of opportunity. There just happened to be impressive people with the goal to survive. And through the pursuit of their goals, they have constructed the framework of the “land of opportunity,” and in turn have touched the lives of so many people surrounding them.

Life’s richness comes from people who are genuine and thoughtfully spending their lives, through their volunteerism and passion for giving.

It is in the ordinary we will find opportunity.