Margins of error

By John Magee

The word ‘decide’ stems from the Latin decidere: to cut off, to make a choice or judgement, to select a course of action. To go in a certain direction. To cut off the other options. 

Margins of error. In comparison to Germans and Germany, America and Americans have had wider margins of error, allowing them to make mistakes without having to pay too high of a price.

America is protected in the East and the West by large oceans. To its northern border are neighbors friendly and very close in terms of national culture. To the south is a neighbor who has never been a threat to the United States. The indigenous (local) population, who Americans mistakenly have called Indians, were either killed in wars or decimated and then forced on to reservations.

As mentioned before, natural resources in the United States are in great supply. The wars in which the U.S. was involved in or started were won, with a few exceptions: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. America’s economic history is one of continual growth.

Whether in their education, in sports, in the business context Americans are taught, pushed, motivated to move forward, to excel, to set ambitious goals, and to take risks. Whereas the Germans warn den Mund nicht zu voll zu nehmen (literally not to fill up your mouth too much; in English not to bite off more than you can chew), the Americans say: Reach for the stars!

When my son was nine years old he asked me if he one day could become President of the United States. My response, like any other American parent, was: “Of course you can”. During the Obama vs. McCain presidential campaign I learned that the U.S. Constitution requires that the President must be born on American soil. Sadly I had to revise my response to my son. He, an American, was born in Bonn, Germany.

Risk. Margins of error. We Americans have had it good, very good, compared to the Germans. Risk is in the eye of the risk-taker.

Margins of error