I Do Not Choose to Be a Common Man

It is my right to be uncommon—if I can.
I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept
citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after
I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to
fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the
challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of
fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for
a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend
to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to
think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations
and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done.”
By Dean Alfange
*Originally published in This Week Magazine.
Later reprinted in The Reader’s Digest, October 1952 and January 1954. The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born December 2, 1899, in Constantinople (now Istanbul). He was raised in upstate New York. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922. He attended Columbia University where he received his law degree and opened a practice in Manhattan. In 1942, Alfange was the American Labor Party candidate for governor of New York and a founder of the Liberal Party of New York. Dean Alfange was also Professor Emeritus at UMass Amherst and a leading figure in various pro-Zionist organizations. Between other actions, in November 1943, he appeared before the House of Representatives and addressed them on the rescue of the Jewish people of Europe. He died in Manhattan at the age of 91 on October 27, 1989.

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