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Are You a Risk Taker?

1776: Benjamin Franklin (left), American politician, writer and inventor, drafting the Declaration of Independence. The drafting committee includes future Presidents of the United States Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) and John Adams (1735 – 1826) and Roger Sherman and Robert R Livingstone. (Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images)

President Obama is paying a visit to Israel this week. I was listening to a speech he was giving to some Israeli students and he said something that struck a chord with me. He said, and I’m paraphrasing a little, “Politicians don’t take risks unless people force them to.” I would have to agree with the president on that particular statement.

One thought seems to cross every elected official’s mind before any decision is made, — “How will this decision affect my reelection chances?” With this kind of thinking is there any wonder about the current situation we find ourselves in?

Risk Vs. Reward

All of us make decisions on the basis of risk vs. reward. But those decisions rarely, if ever, affect the lives of millions of Americans. For those of us on the outside looking in, it’s difficult to understand why 535 people can’t sit down and agree on the best course of action to end the deficit and the other challenges facing American families.

You would think they would end each day in utter frustration, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. It defies logic that any group, with so much at stake, could act so ineptly with so many people struggling to achieve the American Dream.

These political fat cats are comfortably ensconced in their high back, swivel chairs, holding feel good hearings, screaming to the high heavens about the heartless injustices in the world, then calmly cast their partisan vote, and complain about how terrible the opposing side is.

Forgetting Our Roots

When it comes to taking risks, the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence took a considerable risk and the Revolutionary War followed. At the time they were risking everything for the reward of a dream that many of them would not see come to fruition.

In hindsight it seemed like all the pieces just fell into place, yet looking forward at the time, I’m guessing there were lots of furrowed brows around that table before taking pen in hand and changing the world. They drew a line in the sand and dared King George to cross it.

Some Final Thoughts

Pick of a biography of any famous person and you will be treated to page after page of risk. At almost every turn in life they could have lost it all. But the dream of accomplishment drove them forward.

Our founding fathers had a collective dream. They were people from all walks of life who came together to plot a course for something much bigger than themselves.

I wonder if John Hancock was thinking about reelection when he signed? Probably not, since we wouldn’t have a constitution for another 13 years or so.

Nevertheless I find myself trying to picture Harry Reid or John Boehner poised with the quill above the inkwell. What would they be thinking?

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