At the core of the change I am asking for is a willingness to stand in the truth. To take a clear-eyed accounting of exactly where you are today, what your circumstances are, and then plot a course that addresses your truth. The pendulum has swung out to an extreme, and we now must ease it back to a more stable and sustainable sense of equilibrium. To do that, I am going to challenge each of you, after years of overextending yourselves, to put into effect a correction. I am going to challenge you not merely to live within your means, but to live below your means. This is not meant to be a punitive strategy; it is a course in self-awareness, a return to values that our grandparents and their parents embraced. It is at the very core of the American dream of old. Yes, there is still a beating heart in that dream. It is our duty now to rescue what was so right about it: the virtues of hard work and sacrifice; of self-knowledge and steadfastness in achieving one’s goals; of aiming for something greater and longer-lasting than the fleeting rewards of instant gratification and indulgence.
It is time to move beyond materialism in order to set our sights on authentic happiness. Authenticity is a word I find myself returning to again and again these days. I would ask you to put your finger on what is authentic in your own life—and what endures. Surely that is our relationships—with those we love, with our community, with the earth. We strive for connection, we gladly sacrifice and find strength in working toward a greater purpose, a sense that there is a reward in being true to yourself and honoring the limitless power that comes from living a life of integrity. More than anything else, isn’t that the legacy each of us would like to leave behind? Wouldn’t we take pride in knowing that future generations will look to us for inspiration, just as we look for inspiration to the greats who came before us? Then let us embrace the ideals that forged the American dream, then and now: honesty, integrity, dedication, commitment, courage and hope. And let us turn toward the future.
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