My reasons for offering that title came from watching and listening to the 2020 election results and being especially impressed by the story of President-Elect Joe Biden. His life story is very moving, being sprinkled with several tragedies and trials and finally prevailing in his quest for the highest office in America. As if that alone weren’t enough, but it is equally inspiring that a woman has finally ascended to the second highest office in the US. Kamala Harris, the VP Elect, is that woman, with her myriad of personal accomplishments and biracial ethnicity, which spectacularly represent the diversity and greatness of this country.
This has inspired me to share with you a few stories from my life that, like those of President-Elect Biden, speak to the boundless opportunity that exists for all of us who are so lucky to live in the US. Perhaps you will think of your own stories that mirror the opportunities and challenges that we all face in life and the wondrous blessings and opportunities that have resulted when we have stepped up with faith and courage.
AMERICA HAS BEEN GOOD TO ME
I moved to San Francisco in 1964, at age 20, and unlike most, I was not one of those who flocked there to join the hippie movement. Having read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill at age 17, my mission was wholly different than most of my generation at that time. I decided I would head to Montgomery Street, the “Wall Street of the West” and utilize some of what I had learned in Mr. Hill’s book to wend my way up the ladder. I never imagined, however, that I would start and maintain my own business at age 23 and manage that self-employed status from that time to today. I have had a service business, a product development business, and my current counseling service (which evolved from my hobby and greatest passion, numerology). In fact, I feel blessed by having the opportunity of using my passion and knowledge of numerology to help and encourage others.
And I say ONLY IN AMERICA could a young woman with a minimal amount of college education and no personal social advantages accomplish this. I give much credit to Mr. Napoleon Hill for helping me to maintain a steadfast and determined will to achieve what I set out to do throughout the many ups and downs of my wholly independent life.
The following is a Napoleon Hill poem that I memorized and would repeat with frequency through my years of cold calls and stumbling blocks. (I have changed words in the poem that referred exclusively to men, because Mr. Hill was writing in a time when women were not expected to be more than a housewife, nurse, or teacher.)
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with one’s will –
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you’re outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster one,
But soon or late, the one who wins
Is the one WHO THINKS (S)HE CAN!”
MY EXPERIENCE WITH DISCRIMINATION
I have been privileged in this country, no doubt about that, having been born white. However, I have also experienced discrimination. The first time was 1972 when there was much racial unrest in San Francisco, as well as nationally. My mate at that time was an African American. His nephew was running for Mayor of Oakland and we were invited to his political “kick-off” event. At the event, my mate immediately began engaging with his friends and family members and left me on my own to mingle. As it turned out, I was the only white person at the event and even though I tried my best to communicate and fit in, no one would engage in conversation with me. That continued throughout the evening. However, it was not a negative experience for me. It ultimately helped me to understand and empathize with being left out and unseen, a sense I had never experienced before. That sensation has stayed with me to this day, fortunately filling me with greater compassion and understanding for those who are consistently discriminated against in this country.
In 1979, during the Iranian Crisis, I had the privilege of connecting with a man from Iran. At that time, I was in my 30s, and wholly unaware of, and uncaring about, anything political or outside of my immediate personal connections to my business and personal friends. I had a vague understanding of the “Iranian Crisis” but it didn’t affect MY life, so I paid it no heed. However, after Mr. Iranian and I became more than friends, I learned things from him that helped me to understand that people all over this world have much the same needs, wants and desires as we have in the US. In fact, my friend said he had always wanted to be an American Astronaut and had desired to come to America since he was a young boy. During the ousting of the Shah, he came to the US to live with his US resident relatives.
I soon met other members of his family and learned how comparable their lives were to my family members. That was an eye-opener for me because of all the rhetoric that had filtered into my mind from the US news about Iranians and their religious beliefs, etc.
I also had the privilege of meeting and getting to know, first as a client, and later as a friend, a woman from Kuwait. She is a doctor and studied in San Francisco to get her MD. Again, it was an eye-opener to learn about her culture. She and her family members essentially have the same hopes and desires as we have in America although, according to her, America is the country they all aspire to come to or emulate. As a female doctor, she has had struggles being accepted by the male doctors who are her superiors and being a divorced woman with children in Kuwait is treated in more stringent ways than here. Her fortitude and conviction to make things better for her and her children is admirable.
While the US immigration and asylum policies remain fractured I’m hopeful that, in the coming months and years, we will all come together to reimagine the many benefits of our diverse, multicultural country and find our way to a new, 21st century vision for this esteemed “melting pot.”