Opportunity to Prosper!
By Larry John
There is a law of physics that says “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Another way of saying this same thing is "Cast your bread upon the water for after many days you will find it” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). Or you can put it another way with “The more you give the more you get” OR “You must lose in order to find.” I interpret all of the above to mean you must lose YOURSELF in the service of others in order to find YOUR TRUE SELF.
I was watching a show on television and a lady was speaking about what she felt our goal should be as a nation and, in turn, what our goal should be as a people. Her conclusion was that we should strive to make sure that every person has the “opportunity to prosper.” The word PROSPER was not necessarily a money goal or figure, but was rather a situation in which every individual would have “the opportunity to prosper.” I have thought a lot about that and have decided that I whole-heartedly agree with her. If we were to make this a common goal and wish it upon every human being in the world - what a difference it would make. After all, isn’t that what FREEDOM is all about? Don’t we all agree that every human should have the freedom to prosper? I don’t think any of us would say it was their right as an individual to prosper at the expense of others. Yet that is what we do nearly everyday in our free society; in life and business.
That is what we call Capitalism, isn’t it? Businesses make money at the expense of other businesses? You might call it healthy competition. Most business people call it WAR. Wal-Mart, for example, has put thousands of big and small businesses out of business by offering products at a much cheaper price than other stores. They have negotiated with foreign companies (many of which are in China) and are able to purchase the same products for much less than other companies because they buy in such incredible quantities. Then Wal-Mart sells these products to the public at lower prices than other businesses can afford to. And add to that the fact that they pay their employees as little as possible in order to increase their “edge” over the competition which forces competitors to lower wage rates in order to keep up. Hey, we all shop there and support this “capitalist” system. Wal-Mart has given us all some great products at some great low prices while at the same time putting hundreds of other businesses out of business and thus decreasing the opportunity for many to PROSPER. But we all shrug our shoulders and say….”Hey, that’s business. If you are going to swim with the SHARKS . . . don’t bleed.” And that is that! But is “that” all there is to “that?”
And when our children can afford to go to college and other children can’t we think, well, that’s just the way things are. Life is not fair. But just because that is the way things are, does that mean that is the way things should be? We say everyone has the opportunity to go to college if they want, but do they? Are some parents able to pay for their kids to go to college while others can’t? Does everyone have the same opportunity to prosper in relation to education? I don’t think so. And we say…. that’s just the way it is…but is “that” all there is to “that?”
If we are to thrive as a nation and as a modern representation of humanity in general, can we sit back and say, “That’s just the way things are?” And if we “have” and others don’t, is it all right to say, “Hey, life isn’t fair, so get over it. If you want it… work for it.” But did WE “really” work for it? Or were many of us given a “leg up” by our parents or our social standing? Sure many of us are given the “opportunity to prosper”… And many of us aren’t…but so what?
Well, I think there should be a resounding…”SO WHAT!” I think if we “have” then we should make it our duty to make sure others “have” also. And in doing so, make sure that every person in the world has equal opportunity to prosper. Now “you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Man that sounds familiar. The fact is many of us have hardened our hearts to the poor and needy with words like, “If they wanted to get out of the ghetto they could” but the fact is most can’t. And the fact is we are all poor and needy in some way or another. We may not be in need of civil rights protection, or equal education regulations, or business anti-trust protection, or better housing, etc. but we may have need for someone to help us in some other aspect of our search for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Most of us at some point during our life have realized that the opportunity to prosper must be made available to all, because at one time in our life we have all needed help. And with a little bit of “luck” someone saw our need and was there to help us.
I remember when I was 33 years old. I had made my first million (on paper) in Real Estate and then the crash of the late seventies and early eighties came and I was left with nothing. We had to sell our home in Utah and move back home to Arizona to live in my Dad’s old home. It was vacant and he allowed us to live there until I got my feet back on the ground. My wife and I had 5 children and at the time . . . not a penny to my name. My Dad had no money, but he did lend us his Chevron gas card to make the trip down to Arizona from Utah. I didn’t see how I could make it and thought I would have to declare bankruptcy. I told my Uncle (Reeve Beals) what I was thinking of doing and he said, “What are you crazy? You come see me.” After we talked for a while he said, “Listen, I will loan you $3000. After a few months I expect you to pay me back.” And that was all I needed. From that $3000 loan I have managed to become prosperous and some would say RICH. All I needed was the OPPORTUNITY to prosper. I needed someone to believe in me and give me a chance to prosper.
During the years since, I have tried to help as many people as possible by giving them the opportunity to prosper. I have given jobs when there were no jobs to give. I have loaned money to many in the same way my Uncle loaned money to me. I have taught many how to start their own businesses and make money. I have hired many who were not skilled and taught them useful skills. Not all have prospered. Not all of them took my advice. Not all of them took advantage of the opportunities I offered them, but many did. To me the end result doesn’t really matter as long as I am doing everything possible to offer the opportunity to prosper to as many as possible.
We all have to look for people who are in need and who need an “opportunity to prosper.” Some of us just need to TALK and LISTEN. Some of us need to GIVE opportunity in the form of jobs. Some of us, who have money, need to give money to provide opportunity to others. But we all need to help others get the opportunities they need to PROSPER in the world.
And if possible this attitude needs to extend out to some people we don’t even know. Sure we need to give opportunity to prosper to our family, friends, and associates, but if possible we need to be looking for ideas to increase opportunities for all humans in need of opportunities to prosper. We may provide opportunity for people to buy affordable homes, receive better education or opportunities to learn. We may direct our time, energy and resources to increase civil rights by lobbying for programs like “affirmative action.” We may lobby for equal opportunity to prosper for all regardless of a person’s color of skin, religion, sex, sexual preference, nationality, race, or creed. After all we wouldn’t need “affirmative action” programs and laws if we were all to take “affirmative action.” We must take ACTION. Talk is cheap. We must be PROACTIVE, not just REACTIVE. And depending on YOUR ability, you can give opportunity to prosper to one or one million people. We must all DO something in order to effect change.
Providing OPPORTUNITY TO PROSPER is not just something nice to do, it is something we have to do. It is by this means that we leave the world a better place than when we found it. I have read and heard stories of people who have provided opportunities by starting community libraries, brought the minds, talents, and resources of builders and developers together to build low cost homes, created community parks and gardens, brought rival religious groups together, created town celebrations, started scholarship funds, raised money for charities, started food banks, tutored neighborhood children, given free musical lessons, set up interest free loans, worked with politicians to provide increased opportunity for small business loans, written books and given profits to those in need, and so many more and important ways of providing opportunity for people to prosper. I have a friend who built a home and gave all the money on the sale of the home to 300 families in Bolivia to build roofs on their homes. Their current “grass” roofs were infested with poisonous beetles that were killing their children. He got all the people from the carpenters to the plumbers to the designers to donate their services. 100% of the money from the sale of the home went to the families in Bolivia. Now that’s taking action.
And again, we all don’t have to be Florence Nightingale or Mother Teresa. We can just be Bill, or Tom, or Nancy, or the lady next door, or the man down the street, or the employer who cares about his employees, or the neighbor who cares about the neighborhood. Or we can just be a Dad, or a Mom, or a brother or sister, or a civic leader or President of a nation. It is not important who we are as long as each of us is consciously providing opportunity for others to prosper without expecting anything in return. This will take some time, perhaps money, effort, hard work, sadness, rejection, heartache, and even disappointment. But in the end the result of our efforts will be worth the sacrifice. "Cast your bread upon the water for after many days you will find it.”
Start today to discover your “personal” way of providing OPPORTUNITY for others to PROSPER. You will be surprised how much you will PROSPER in the PROCESS. You will never be able to GIVE more than you RECEIVE. It is an undisputable law of the universe. Think about it.