The Tipping Point of Hope

by Mark on November 19, 2010

There are many similarities between today and America thirty years ago. In both eras are impacted by weak economies, high unemployment, partisan debates, a growing Asian economy, a Middle East threat, and a dismal U.S. morale. In 1980 a miracle took place deep in New York’s Adirondack Mountains that tipped America’s scales toward hope and energized its citizens.

Thirty years ago the United States suffered through a deep recession that drove unemployment and business bankruptcies to miserable heights. The wake of the Viet Nam War and Watergate detonated explosive debates between political parties. Japan cast a huge economic shadow across the global as a perceived unstoppable economic engine. Iran held 52 Americans as hostages after attacking the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In a memorable speech President Jimmy Carter described the U.S. morale as, “. . . growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose. . .”

In Lake Placid the 1980 Winter Games moved from an entertaining speed and figure skating contest into the ‘Miracle on Ice” as the underrated U.S. Hockey Team began knocking off higher ranked teams before landing in the rink with the unstoppable and undefeated Russian national team. What the Soviets did not expect was a focused, aggressive, and united American team. The U.S. won 4 – 3 and went on to capture the Olympic Gold Medal.

America’s hockey victory reinvigorated the nation, tipping the morale scales from a sliver to a bolt of hope. While a few bumps in the financial recovery road remained, the United States believed in itself, worked more as one, and ignited the economy into a two-decade blaze of growth. Unstoppable Japan ultimately stumbled and is currently spinning in a long term spiral. In less than 11 months Iran released our hostages.

Today, there is no miracle hockey game before us. We can benchmark their successful formula by minimizing the partisanships and working as one. We need to focus on a common growth-oriented sense of purpose. Rather than fear or fight China, we need to work with them with more self-confidence. Most importantly, we must believe in ourselves as individuals and as one nation. We cannot wait for a sports team to lead us. We must grab out own slice of hope. It is about the size of a hockey puck, but it will tip us into a new era of success.

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