It has been 243 years since our founding fathers signed the Declaration Of Independence and the great American experiment began.
These words form the moral backbone of our country and represent our core values:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
We have not always lived up to these values. Slavery and the treatment of the Native American Indians are glaring examples. And there certainly have been other moments where America has not lived up to these values.
However, it has been my experience, over fifty-seven years living in the US, that we try to live to these values and that the notions of freedom and equality are deeply rooted in the culture of America.
Which leads me to the American Dream, the notion that there is economic opportunity for all, regardless of who you are and where you come from.
That has been my experience personally. I worked my way through college, arrived in NYC at the age of 21 with not a penny to my name, but with a job waiting for me, and I made the best of that.
It is also my experience in the venture capital business. I have seen people without a college education pursue their dream and come out a winner. I have seen people with broken English make it with hustle and ingenuity.
But again, there are gaps in this record of opportunity. It is not as easy for a young black woman growing up in Brownsville to find economic opportunity as it is a young white man growing up in Palo Alto. There are many parts of America where life has gotten harder for the current generation relative to their parent’s generation.
But what makes America special is that we believe that isn’t right and it should be addressed. And I see it being addressed in my work on the education sector and beyond. I am hopeful that we will see a meaningful dent in many of these opportunity gaps in my lifetime.
It is fashionable these days to bemoan what is wrong with America and there is much that is wrong. But I prefer to stare at what remains right about America and celebrate it, particularly on our birthday.