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Hard work is the solution we need

| Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Listen to our recent national political debates, and our fate seems to hang in the balance: Al-Qaeda, ISIS, global warming, the deficit. The more I listened to the candidates from both parties talk, the more I become depressed and truly fearful. Am I alone? Conservativism, socialism, progressivism rain down not answers to our nations problems but failed solutions from the past. To move forward and change, these “-isms” need to be feared more than ISIS or imams. They are childish and have no place in a serious public debate; they are hurting more than helping.

Napoleon had a maxim: “That the destiny of states depend on a moment.” I believe we are in one of those moments. Our only way forward is to work ourselves back to prosperity. It will not be easy given the spirit of our times.

Politicians and pundits are not encouraging work as a way out of poverty, to maintain your position in an economic class or to become a millionaire. They seem to be too busy pointing fingers at others instead of searching for the root causes of the declining economic status of some groups in our society and crafting policies that encourage work, thrift, common wealth and self-reliance while discouraging debt and selfishness.

Opportunity and the seeking of it is the foundation upon which we must rebuild our economy. As sincere as they both are, I know the words of Glenn Beck or Barack Obama are not going to do much to create jobs and a future for us. We may agree with them, and their words may comfort us, but we must each work individually at achieving the American dream and writing another chapter in the great history of our nation. Work is the key word and the only one seldom heard as a solution to our problems.

Everything takes work. It takes work to keep a family together, it takes work to make payroll, it takes work to graduate from college, and it takes work to keep a city clean, safe and prosperous. These jobs are not 40-hours-per-week positions. Anything worthwhile demands our total commitment and unrelenting work to achieve.

I cannot think of anything I cherish that does not require strenuous effort. I believe in order to become the next greatest generation we must work hard, long, smart and together. Nothing short of work will put real money in our bank accounts, change our nation’s current course or allow us to compete globally. Let’s work together instead of fighting against each other. Let’s send that message to Wall Street, Washington and to the world. America works.

We have been the world’s number one economy since 1872. Over the last 142 years, the world has been transformed, and humans along with it. American values and ethics have played a leadership role. We will need a great change in our current state of affairs to remain competitive and continue to lead. Americans are willing to work, but our leaders must set the tone.

As Americans, we must work at our jobs and deal with the problems our corporations, our cities and our nation face. To remind me to work hard every day, I carry a copy of a 1905 speech by Theodore Roosevelt entitled “The Strenuous Life.”

“A mere life of ease is not in the end a very satisfactory life,” he pronounced. He wanted Americans to remember their roots and what brought them to be leaders on the world stage.  He further preached that life should be a strenuous endeavor with the goal ultimately being national greatness, social harmony and economic prosperity.

With their actions and rehashed rhetoric, the sole answer our politicians do not offer up as a solution is work. It takes work to understand each other and compromise. It takes work to maintain a democracy. It takes work to protest and advocate for real, healthy change that will result in a bright future for us all. “Labor Omnia Vincit” means labor conquers all things.

I am not a Republican or a Democrat, white or black, rich or poor. I am an American. As Americans, we need to define our future based on good old American common sense, work ethic, faith and confidence that we can make our home and the world a better place.

Mark Tarner is the president of the South Bend Chocolate Company. He is a former Indiana Business of the Year honoree.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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