For those of you who are frequent visitors to my blog, aside from being insane, you must know of my intense love for the musical War Paint, which had its premiere at The Goodman Theatre this June through August. I won't wax rhapsodic about it again, but I wanted to share with you a lyric I found particularly touching:
"This is the time to reach my goal
My American moment, I hereby take a vow
I want to win the heart and soul of American [people]
This is my mission now."
Those words were sung by Helena Rubinstein, who immigrated from Poland to become a cosmetic entrepreneur in America. As I listened to these lyrics the three times I saw, I was struck by the philosophic implications.
Today, as you know, is Labor Day. Labor Day is a day of appreciation for American Workers and to commemorate the American Labor Movement. For many, the only thing that it represents is the end of Summer and the impending strategy of the Midwestern Winter. It epitomizes that feeling of, when you were a kid, realizing that is was Sunday and falling into a gloom. We never want to see a beautiful thing fade.
As I sat down to write this little musing, those words of Helena Rubinstein's were buzzing in my mind. In this time of political gloom and American Patriotism at an all-time low, we need to redefine what our "American Moments" are. When was the moment that, as individual, we tapped into the ideals that birthed this nation of prosperity and opportunity?
Contrary to Donald Trump's vision of immigrants as immoral rapists who come here simply to raise the crime numbers, we can learn immensely from their struggles and successes. Ayn Rand, philosopher and author of Atlas Shrugged, was once heckled for being a foreigner during one of her lectures. Her response, containing her own brand of rational vitriol, was, “I chose to be an American. What did you ever do, except for having been born?”
We often take for granted that we were born into freedom. Yet, our way of life isn't a given: you have to work just as hard to prove that you deserve to succeed by your own fortitude. There comes a conscious moment where we choose to think, to innovate, and to achieve. In the same vein, some make the choice to loot, plunder, and murder. In America, morality is black and white and the rules are clearly defined. Yet, as we see corrupt politicians and murderous policemen, you learn that the tool is only as powerful as the person using it.
My American Moment was the day I started to implement individualism into my life. One of the singular benefits of living in these United States is that the right of the individual is held inviolate. The day I learned that one's life is theirs to live, and theirs alone, was the day I truly started to live. I wasn't chained to an ideology or a credo, I simply had the skin of my teeth and a stirring in my soul. Seeing the irrationality that resides in the minds of men, it frightens me that there are people who don't believe the rights of the individual are the pinnacle of our lives. How can a society be strong if the individuals within them are aimless and self-destructive? You couldn't have a perfect cake if your eggs were rotten, could you?
We may have never identified our "American Moment" consciously, but it is something that needs to be done. The moment when you first learned the awesome responsibility of being an American is to realize where your life started.
I want all of you who are reading this to comment and tell me what your "American Moment" was and how it affected your life. On a day that often gets overlooked, I want you to remember that moment where you were going to work to achieve a better life for yourself, a life you deserve and treasure.
On this day, I urge you to stand up and say, "This is my American Moment, This is my mission now."
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