Our heritage is a very important value to each of us. I think it is particularly true of the native born Mainers. Although I have only lived in Maine for the past 20 years, I have witnessed the ethic of hard work exhibited by many Mainers that I have been in contact with as I made my sales calls from Madawaska to Calais, Greenville to Kennebunk, Dixfield to Sanford and to all points in between. This was always particularly true of those from Aroostook and Washington counties.

However today, this work ethic typified by the industrious Mainer does not seem to have the same resonance as it had in years past. Consider these facts that existed as of 2012. Twenty-seven percent of our population of 1,318,301 (355,941) were on Medicaid. That ranks Maine at No. 3 nationally.  A total of 13.8 percent of our population were receiving food stamps, which place Maine at No. 2 nationally. Lastly, 4.9 percent of our population were receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and that puts Maine at No. 3 nationally. If anything, figures for 2013 may increase the severity of these ratings. There are many potential reasons for this, but I believe it may be in not relying enough on our own abilities and responsibilities. To achieve success all of us must take risks. It is critical as we calculate the elements of risk to be both cautious and not impulsive, but we must not shy away from risk if we are to gain satisfying rewards.

It really is up to each individual to make the most of himself and not anyone else and it is definitely not up to the government. I cannot stress too firmly the importance of encouraging yourself to stretch and reach for the horizon. Have faith in yourself, but place yourself in the hands of God for guidance. It should be understood that no individual, regardless of their intelligence, commitment, and ingenuity can accomplish all things on their own. We all have our own limitations, but in spite of this it is essential to press forward in faith. Keep strong in this pursuit to avoid the perception of being sorry for yourself or for being a victim of your particular circumstances. As you proceed in this quest make every effort to avoid debt as it will muzzle your path to prosperity.

Are you up to the challenge? I believe you are.

Jan Dolcater is from Rockport.