Of all the countries in the world, America is truly the land of opportunity. It’s just interesting to hear it come from an unusual source: Jerry Springer …
… watch no more than the first 4 minutes of this video to see how Jerry came from nothing to (as he calls it) the “ridiculously privileged life I live today because of my silly show”.
As it happens, this speech is very similar to his recent speech to the newest group of Law graduates at his alma mater – the Northwestern University School Of Law (just given on May 16, 2008) – where he stood up to jeers and sat down to cheers (and, a standing ovation!); read his closing statements and you’ll see why:
It is perhaps inevitable that we are inclined to always be judging others. But let me share this observation. I am not superior to the people on my show, and you are not superior to the people you will represent. That is not an insult. It is merely an understanding derived from a life spent on the front lines of human interaction, be it in the arena of politics, law, journalism, or in the spotlight of the media. We are all alike. Some of us just dress better, or have more money – or perhaps we were born into better circumstances of parental upbringing, health, brains and luck.
On this great day, when we honor your achievement – which is considerable by any standard – we might also say thank you to God in full recognition that whatever we achieve in life is 99% a gift. After all, not one person in this hall had anything to do with the decision to be born, to whom we’d be born, in what era, in what country, with what health, with what mind. Indeed, if the brightest most successful person living in America today – no matter who you think that person is – if he or she had been born in Darfur, the chances are, he or she would be dead by the age of 5.
No, life is a gift, as is living in America. And I know that from personal experience. You see, I am not the first lawyer in my family. My dad’s brother was. His practice was cut short, as was his life – in Auschwitz. My grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, they met their end as well – Chelmo, Thereisenstadt, camp after camp. Hitler turning my family tree into a single vine – mom and dad, by the grace of God, surviving, enabling them to bring my sister and me ultimately to America.
Four tickets on the Queen Mary, January 1949, sailing into the New York harbor. In silence, all the ship’s passengers gathered on the top deck of this grand oceanliner as we passed by the majesty of the Statue of Liberty. My mom told me in later years (I was only 5 at the time) shivering in the cold, that I had asked her: “What are we looking at? What does the statue mean?” in the German she spoke, she replied: “Ein tach allas.” “One day, everything!”
She was right. In one generation, here in America, my family went from near total annihilation to this ridiculously privileged life I live today because of my silly show.
Indeed, in America, all things are possible. So on this day, as we celebrate and honor your achievement, may it be for you – as it was for me – “ein tach allas,” one day, everything.
I can relate to this on many levels (for instance I, too, have a ‘silly show‘) and always say that the difference between a country like (say) Australia and the United States is like opening a sandwich takeout restaurant:
In Australia (and most other countries on this planet) you find an empty shop on a corner location. You clean it out and wheel some second hand fridges and counter tops in. You hang a sign out the front, in vinyl lettering that reads “Joe’s Sandwiches … Fresh To Go”, and …
… work 60 hour work-weeks for what amounts to not much more than minimum wage, until you are too old or sick to continue.
In the United States you find an empty shop on a corner location. You clean it out and wheel some second hand fridges and counter tops in. You hang a sign out the front, in vinyl lettering that reads “Potbelly’s Sandwiches”, and …
… open up 1,000 more all over America … you never make a single sandwich yourself; why should you? After all, you’re now a self-made billionaire!
All things are indeed possible … even for you 🙂