One of my favorite stories from the late Zig Ziglar is entitled “The Balloon Salesman.”
Many years ago, a balloon salesman was selling balloons on the streets of New York City. When business got a little slow, he would release a balloon. As it floated into the air, a fresh crowd of buyers would gather, and his business would pick up for a few minutes. He alternated the colors, first releasing a white one, then a red one, and later a yellow one.
After a time, a little Negro boy (remember Zig told this story many years ago) tugged on his coat sleeve, looked the balloon salesman in the eye, and asked a penetrating question. “Mister, if you release a black balloon, would it go up?” The balloon salesman looked at the little boy with compassion, wisdom, and understanding that comes from years of experience and said, “Son, it’s what’s inside a balloon that makes them go up.”
Ziglar — a motivational speaker — shared this “pearl of wisdom” countless times.
You see, it doesn’t matter what your life circumstances are. Living in the greatest country in the world, a person born in poverty — black, white, or Hispanic — can rise up to become wealthy, successful and famous.
As adults, we need to emphasize this more with our children and grandchildren.
Clarence Thomas — a member of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1991 — is a great example. He grew up dirt poor in coastal Georgia. His father abandoned the family when he was young, forcing his mother to raise the family on minimum wage.
Thomas has called his grandfather Myers Anderson, “the greatest man (he’s) ever known.” His grandfather — an illiterate sharecropper — taught him the value of hard work, perseverance and education. Thomas went on to graduate cum laude from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts in 1971 and received a J.D. from Yale University in 1974.
Worth an estimated $3.1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, Oprah Winfrey was born in Mississippi to a single teenage mother and grew up without running water or electricity. According to a 2005 article on theguardian.com, Winfrey wore “Hessian overalls made from potato sacks that earned her the cruel nickname ‘Sack Girl’. She had pet cockroaches and a doll made from a dried corn cob.”
The former U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell, and son of Jamaican immigrants, grew up poor in the South Bronx in New York.
Halle Berry’s father abandoned her family when she was just 5 years old. There was a time when she lived in homeless shelters after moving to New York City to begin a career in modeling and acting.
Others who didn’t let the circumstances of their birth hold them back that you would recognize include: Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, J.K Rowling, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Celine Dion, Ralph Lauren and Leonardo DiCaprio.
We all have roadblocks and difficulties. Successful people overcome hardships, never letting their circumstances determine their fate.
Monday, we celebrated the birth and life of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement during the ‘60s.
King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
King’s dream was for a color blind society.
Today there is a group fighting against his dream. They believe King was both wrong and naive. They tell us that the color of our skin is what is essential. The Progressive wing of the Democrat party promotes Critical Race Theory (CRT).
CRT asks white Americans to apologize for their race and tells minorities they can’t get anywhere because the deck is stacked against them. CRT proponents claim that one’s destiny is based on your race.
Dr. Ben Carson puts it this way, “This divisive ideology (CRT) seeks to replace the traditional American value of equality of opportunity with a regime that assumes all White people are racist oppressors and labels all racial minorities as victims.”
CRT divides America.
I believe in King’s dream, and I refuse to accept CRT. I hope you do too.