Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Spring began last week. This week Easter is celebrated by Christians to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. It reminds us of God’s ability to bring life where there was only death.

In spring, the new buds on the plants remind us of the cyclical nature of the seasons: winter turns to spring, spring to summer and summer to fall. Each season has its particular stage. Without winter, there would be no spring, without spring, no summer and fall is most welcome here in Georgia after a hot summer.

While New Year’s is the time for resolutions, dreams and inspiration, spring is the time to put a deadline on those dreams to ensure that they are achieved. As Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

Dreams are good – they provide a picture of what we would like our future to look like. Goals provide the bridge to take us from the current reality to the realization of our dreams. Dreaming by itself will not make something happen – but visualizing the dream and allowing that vision to motivate you to work really hard, that is helpful.

The importance of this transition from dream to reality was reinforced when reading Senator Barack Obama’s speech given last week titled “A More Perfect Union.”

“At this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ‘Not this time.’ This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st-century economy. Not this time. ? ?

“This time we want to talk about ….” is how the next three paragraphs of the speech begin.

Obama focuses this portion of his speech on “This time we want to talk about.”

Imagine - if instead of talking, we acted.

The goal of working toward shaping a safe, prosperous nation is best achieved by working together – taking action. By focusing on our shared bits of humanity – the spark of divinity in all of us – rather than relying on the standard labeling system – African-American, white, Hispanic, Asian, male, female – we can refocus the filters which currently obscure our vision.

We should focus on what works rather than what does not work.

This week, I drove from my home in Atlanta to Nashville to testify in front of the Tennessee State House and Senate regarding the “Education Pays” act, an innovative learning program sponsored by Rep. Brian Kelsey. I am president of the board of directors for The Learning Makes a Difference Foundation, which has been piloting a similar program in Fairburn, Ga.

The “Learn and Earn” pilot is not complete, but it has already shown signs that it has effected positive change. Last month, when I visited the program, I met a middle schooler who told me “I was failing.” The key word was “was.” He was no longer failing. A parent told the middle-school principal that this program has turned her child around – the child now wants to attend classes and “wants to learn.”

Now that’s success – one student at a time.

It is spring (and hope does spring eternal) – time to move from dreams to deadlines, from talk to action. Real impact happens one person at a time – one solution at a time.

David Brooks’ recent column in the New York Times, titled “Throughly Modern Do-Gooders,” noted “Bill Gates … came to dinner with journalists in Washington last week. He looked utterly bored as the conversation drifted to presidential campaign gossip. But when asked about which programs produce higher reading scores, the guy lit up and became a fountain of facts and findings.”

Talk is not the goal and Government is not the solution. It does not make sense to send our money to Washington so that someone there can decide where it should be spent. Instead, we should each look at our own communities and direct our time and money to people we can help – one person at a time.

Instead of talking about our differences, let us make progress by working together. Instead of dwelling on post-racial, post-gender or post-partisan politics, maybe we should move towards post-political action.

I admire, commend, extol, honor and applaud our nation and its people, while recognizing each is flawed. Working together, our nation can become more prosperous and a more perfect union. Take your dream, give it a deadline and get to work.

God bless America, the land that I love.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.