A Fundamental Question For Success

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”


I was a teenager when I first heard those words. It was a sad moment. Ted Kennedy, the youngest of the three Kennedy brothers, was giving the eulogy at his brother’s funeral.

The evening before Robert was shot and killed in Los Angeles, I had shaken his hand as he toured Southeast San Diego in an open motorcade.

As a young Latino, who grew up on Logan Avenue, in a poor neighborhood of San Diego, the moment was magical.

I had shaken the hand of the future president of the United States.

The rest is history. Kennedy won the California primary and seemed headed to the White House. But on the evening of his great victory, his life ended.

Throughout my entire adult life, Kennedy’s words have never stopped ringing in my ears.

From a poor kid who wanted to become a lawyer, to a lawyer who has endeavored to help immigrants achieve their far-fetched dreams, my goals were inspired by Kennedy’s words.

Even today, I ask myself, almost daily, “Why not?”

I am not alone.

As an immigration attorney – helping clients from countries as diverse as Mexico and Morocco, China and Columbia, India and Ireland earn the right to live and work in the United States – I have witnessed many strong individuals living out the Kennedy challenge . . . chasing a dream of something that has never been in their life.

Whether or not conscious, at one time or another, they have asked themselves, “Why not?”

And answered, “Why not?”

Then they embarked on the long, slow, and often painful journey forward.

Actions speak louder than words.

Unlike those who give up as soon as they hit obstacles, successful immigrants are willing to dig deep – do whatever is necessary – to secure a better future for their family living here and often abroad.

Their beliefs and actions are encapsulated in the words of Robert Kennedy:

“There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

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