The land of the free and the home of the brave has for many of its citizens become an unpredictable place consumed with anxiety. Poll after poll in late 2009 and early 2010 found the American people looking over their shoulder in fear. Time magazine even described the post-recession workplace as a new 9/11 for America—an economy characterized by an unemployment rate that sticks stubbornly in the 9-11percent range.
While that fear is deserving of respect—the current situation is indeed a time of relentless testing—its impact will not devastate the nation’s inherent opportunity. The horizon of its frontier remains as vast and colored with hope as it has ever been. And already, the Great American Innovation Engine is starting to rev back up. It may take awhile to return to full throttle—after all, it’s been idling in greed and consumerism for decades—but it is even now starting to vibrate again across the economy.
New ideas, new technologies, new industries, new products, new services are even now cascading out of the minds, the creativity and the freedom of the American population. Some of these spring from the employees of major corporations—IBM, for example, was awarded 4,914 U.S. patents in 2009, more than another other company in the world. Others are created by inquiring minds in America’s great research institutions—at the M.I.T. Media lab, for example, they are already at work on over 300 inventions, ranging from sociable robots to stacking cars. Collectively, these creative efforts create both new jobs and revitalized futures for all of the country’s working men and women. And that fertile capacity is unique to the United States of America.
What powers it—what is the planet’s only renewable source of energy—is the heterogeneity of the American people. In the 20th Century, the nation learned it couldn’t out-process the Japanese. In the 21st Century, it is learning that it can’t out-produce the Chinese. But neither one of those homogenous nations can out-think, out-create, out-invent, out-innovate, or out-talent the American population. They are each a nation of one people. The United States of America is a nation of all the world’s people.
When Americans refer to themselves, they acknowledge their roots—for those are their heritage—but always they complete their self description with what unites them—for it is their future. They are Native Americans, English Americans, French Americans, Dutch Americans, Irish Americans, German Americans, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, non-Ethnic Americans and yes, they are Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans too.
The American culture of acceptance, the American societal norm of integration, the American value of self-reliance, however imperfect, are today still singular beacons of hope and opportunity. Better than any other place on Earth, they light the way for those with a new idea, a different approach, a better solution. Only in America can a person join a republic where they will be challenged and pushed to their limits, but also welcomed for what they aspire to accomplish and revered for what they do. And, it is that extraordinary and irrepressible trait—that one-of-a-kind poly-tribal dynamism—which ensures there will always be an unquenchable need for talent in the American workplace.
Thanks for reading,