Is Sacrifice Needed to Build Infrastructure?

“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.” –Napoleon Hill

When President Kennedy introduced the dream of putting a man on the moon, he was met with criticism and disbelief.  The task seemed daunting and nearly impossible, but he pushed toward the goal, assuring Americans that it would be worth it.

Sacrifice initially seems to be undesirable for some people as if they are being asked to give of themselves without purpose or reward.  Not many people fully understand how a sacrifice will affect future conditions, and they often find it better to avoid any risk in general.   We have learned from this experience of putting a man on the moon that sacrifices do have their rewards.  No one in the sixties, not even President Kennedy himself, could have known exactly how taking that risk would spark an era of innovation and affirm America’s stance as a world power.

In the same way, we can’t yet grasp exactly how our efforts in bringing high-speed rail to the United States will affect the country, but Americans must see that there is a need for change in transportation.  I strongly believe that high-speed rail is the solution.

This idea is amply presented and advanced in my book, Fast Trains:America’s High Speed Future, which I co-authored with Nancy Bolts.  We hope to share with the general public through relatable stories about high-speed rail travel around the world how we believe in high-speed rail and understand its overwhelming benefits.  Our book brings these benefits to life and encourages Americans to invest in bringing high-speed rail to America. 

We must ask: With all these benefits, what exactly is the sacrifice in having a high-speed rail system?  We need to get used to the idea of completely revolutionizing the way Americans move across cities.  Yes, we will deal with years of construction and  government allocations, but when faced with constant over-crowded highways, long security lines, unsafe roads and threatening amounts of automobile gas emissions,  the inconveniences during the construction period of high-speed rail are far less daunting. The short term sacrifices do not stand in comparison to the possibilities and conveniences that high-speed rail will bring.  If only we understood high-speed rail’s potential, we would readily embrace sacrifice.

The American people are going to have to get out of their comfort zones and revolutionize the way they see travel.  They will need to see the possibilities of high-speed rail with an open mind and a willingness to change what is routine.  This includes spending time learning about high-speed rail and sustainability in general and committing to help bring this tremendously beneficial industry to America.  Only once the public is on board, will things start moving.  Once high-speed rail is fully established, I believe the public will develop a new dependence on high-speed rail as a means of transportation.  Fast trains will be the norm, and one day parents will tell their kids how they used to sit in traffic for hours to get from one city to the next.  They will look back on the transitional years of construction and think to themselves, the sacrifice was worth it.

After considering all the benefits, high-speed rail really is no sacrifice at all.  It is a good investment.  The real sacrifice of our future comes if we remain “business as usual.” We must remind ourselves of the progress in our past and, like President Kennedy, continually push ourselves to invest in our future.

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