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.
All this is what it means to be an American.
Dean Alfange (1897-1989) wrote this statement in the 1950’s. It has also been referred to as “An American Creed: I Do Not Choose to Be a Common Man,” and “My Creed.” It originally appeared in This Week Magazine. A condensed version was published in Reader’s Digest.