This essay was originally published in This Week Magazine and later published in The Reader’s Digest in October 1952, then again in January 1954.

It’s well worth another look in these days.

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 me.

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


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.

I couldn’t have said that better myself!

If you would like to hear Dave’s monologue commentary on this subject, all you have to do is visit Dave and click on the Listen to Dave link. The date of the program is October 24, 2008. It is well worth the listen if you are striving for excellence or are looking for the encouragement to excel in this day of ‘just getting by’.