By the age of 19 Will Smith had already made more money than most people make in a lifetime. He brought rap into the mainstream, won that genre’s first Grammy, and then went on to conquer television as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Released on July 3, 1996, Independence Day became a blockbuster and subsequent 4th of July movies Men in Black and Men in Black II established Smith a guaranteed box office smash.
Given how easily Smith’s success has come it is not surprising that he oozes bravado and self-confidence with every stride.
Profiled on 60 Minutes he attributed his success not to terrific talent, but to a terrific work ethic. In the most endearing moment of the interview he described how his father knocked down a stone wall at his business and subsequently had Will 12, and his brother 9, rebuild it. The job was enormous but the two boys persevered and after a year an a half completed the task, One brick at a time.
At completion his father responded, Now, don’t you ever tell me there’s something that you can’t do! He walked through a door leaving his boys to contemplate their accomplishment.
The moment reminded me of a similar sort of tough love upbringing that I shared and I felt a bit of kinship with Mr. Smith.
While I look forward and anticipate the kind of achievements our Hollywood star has surpassed long ago, I am reminded of a particular movie where Will Smith voiceovers words in the Declaration of Independence; specifically, in The Pursuit of Happiness Will’s character contemplates that it was interesting that Americans are not guaranteed happiness, only the pursuit of happiness.
Given this, it is difficult to reconcile the type of political ideology that elevates some bureaucrat’s interpretation of fairness above freedom, which Will Smith seems to embrace.
Considering much of the politically correct dogma Americans have had to endure over the years and accounting for all the assertions the left has made insisting that our Founders were nothing more than White Slave Owners, it is interesting to note that even behind the drunken racist facade from which they forged our nation, the Founding Fathers planted seeds of which freedom for all people would flourish.
So successful their experiment, today’s number one actor in Hollywood, today’s number one personality on television (and one of the nation’s wealthiest women), and today’s leading contender for the presidency of the United States are all people of African decent.
Can it really be said that the Constitution of the United States was not intended to remove shackles from all mankind, even though the term three-fifths of a person has been hijacked by the left to insinuate the white men who drafted the words were racist to the core?
I wonder, if Barack Obama becomes president, will he follow in the traditions that awarded opportunities to these formerly persecuted peoples by insuring others attain the same level of excellence demanded by a father conscripting his children to the task of building a wall seemingly beyond their abilities, or will he only venture to persecute those Americans who have already learned to build walls?
Today, sitting with my children and watching the fireworks I’ll ruminate what lucky people we Americans are. I’ll recall how the strained but affectionate rivalry between Jefferson and Adams culminated, fifty years to the date from their signing of the Declaration of Independence, in their passing only hours from each other. I’ll consider the sacrifice of so many American veterans who’ve fought for our freedoms. Finally I’ll imagine, how neat it is, some obscure guy like me might attain as much success as the number one actor in Hollywood, not because I have his talent, but because I am an American.
While I dream, Will Smith will support a presidential candidate who thinks I keep too much of what currently is a modest salary, and that it should be government’s prerogative to take more of it at an ever growing pace.
Copyright 2008 Jim Pontillo