Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Why so little optimism? Our country still has the same basic construct. Is it the economy, the demise of morality, the dearth of religion? What makes us, as a people, less optimistic?

Possibly it's the sense of helplessness regarding our future as a nation. If we believe that our actions will not affect our outcome, then we wind up feeling helpless. Why work hard, why do anything, if actions have no consequences?

Looking forward to the rise of the next generation, we would like to believe that our children will be better off than we are. Today, only a small minority of Americans believe that their children will be better off than they are today.

According to another recent Rasmussen poll, just 16 percent of American adults "believe today's children will be better off than their parents." More than half, 66 percent, say today's children will not be better off, while another 18 percent are undecided." (This poll was of 1,000 adults, conducted June 16-17, 95 percent level of confidence, sampling error 3 percent).

These two findings make sense when looked at together. If there is little optimism, then there is little belief that something can be done, that our actions have consequences, that our lives and those of our children can be better.

Our actions do have consequences. Americans have never been helpless, and we must not believe in it now. Our actions can and must make a difference.

To change the future, we have to change our beliefs about the future and then work hard to ensure that our beliefs and dreams come true.

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”.