Let me break this down for you, kids… The latest version of the American Dream is currently being revised. Thanks for playing!
The American Dream is a complex concept that has been many things to a lot of different types of people over the years.
To the hippie counter-culture cynic it’s a red white and blue sales pitch with a cold plastic heart, a thing to be scorned and avoided at all costs; like soap, water and work. Everything will be fine if we give the world a big hug and a bong hit.
To a free market capitalist it’s a modern day version of an 1881 episode of “Deadwood”, populated with day traders and investment bankers with no meddlesome government to get in the way of profits. In the free market world powerful men have their way because they deserve it because they are the winners and therefore powerful men. Women are mostly some version of a prostitute until they are too old and ugly, then she can be traded up for a trophy wife. It’s all about the buck, baby. Nobody wants to give money to a guy with an old ugly-assed wife. Am I right?
To the religious or spiritual person it’s the freedom to express their beliefs without any restrictions; but to the religious zealot it's also about forcing others to accommodate certain religious beliefs not of their choosing. However, this does not seem to be specifically an American religious view. Most religions do seem to have their sensitive spots. The messages they send when offended are not exactly subtle either, yet they are curiously similar.
Abortion: “America is a Christian nation and you will respect that! Or we will kill your ass for sure. God Bless.”
The Prophet: “Egypt is a Muslim nation and you will respect that! Or we will kill your ass for sure. Allah Ak-bar.”
Iran Nukes: “Israel is a Jewish nation and if we think you have a nuke and you happen to be named Iran, we reserve the right to bomb the shit out of you at a time and place of our choosing. And oh yes, we will kill your ass for sure. Shalom.”
The American Dream has also been a Ford in your garage and a chicken in every pot, and yes for a while it was forty acres and a mule to a certain portion of our historical population. That one didn’t work out too good though. Today it’s supposed to be a house in the burbs complete with a mortgage and a heart attack to be announced later.
But it’s been a very real thing to very real people as well, and that’s no joke.
Dare to Dream
Hope springs eternal they say, and they might be right this tme. Even as bad as the media says things are in the United States, people are still killing themselves to get in here. Being an American is still a pretty good deal, globally speaking.
They are risking their lives because they're desperate to join the 300 million plus people alive today in this country who have just as many different definitions of the “dream” that drew us all here and keeps us here. And isn’t that how it should be, how it was designed to be?
But what about the 100 billion humans who are estimated to have ever been born since the beginning of time? What about their dreams? There are 6.6 billion other non-American humans alive today. Do the dreams of a non-American matter? What do I, a rather un-remarkable American, owe to any of them? Alive or dead.
I think the dream is in the eye of the beholder these days and our little American Dream is going global. Walls that divided us from other cultures for thousands of years are being overrun by trade and technology. People are seeing how the other half lives and uncomfortable questions are being asked. Governments are realizing that they cannot control it or us. I tell you it’s a hell of a time to be alive.
Here’s some simple math for you:
The American Dream = the freedom to dream
About the only thing we Americans seem to agree on these days is that we should be able to define the American Dream for ourselves. Except that isn’t really the case, is it? The people crowing about that freedom loudest appear to also want to impose an "exemption" on certain freedoms that they object to.
As it leaves the nest the dream is being hammered by foes on all fronts, even at home. “You can dream, but only if you do it the way we want you to with our prescribed outcome or you can’t be on our team.” Right. Have you met any Americans? We don’t like limits, even ones we should respect, like gravity.
The American Dream is evolving whether we like it or not due to redefined economic expectations, envionmental changes, and the imposition of limits on personal choices by political and religious powers. It’s also being co-opted and applied locally by democracy movements all across the world. We had a hand in the Arab Spring merely because the American Dream has existed as an example for the last 200 plus years. And we make the papers a lot.
But America got involved more directly and regrettably by supporting some pretty hard-assed dictators in the Middle East for the last 40-50 years and we never cared how they got things done as long as Israel was ok and the oil kept flowing. Maybe it’s time for us to raise our expectations, for them and ourselves.
Before you get mad at the people burning our flag you need to remember that this is Egypt’s first election in 5000 years. Some of these other countries are coming out of decades of oppression; in some cases we both helped keep their dictators in place for our own reasons and also allowed our American Dream to inspire those same people to throw off the yoke and learn how to be free to dream. Talk about sending a mixed message…
What we are seeing is that their newly elected leaders are learning how to use the levers of power, using the media to inflame and control passions, and right now we are an easy target to keep the people from holding their brand new leaders accountable. If we keep our heads and show them and the rest of the world that all this bragging of “American Exceptionalism” was actually rooted in at least some fact then maybe we can be that beacon in the night we’d like to believe we are.
We should stand up for people’s right to choose, then abide their choices and hold them accountable for how they treat their people and their neighbors going forward. Sounds like a simple yet effective plan.
American or Human?
Give these folks some time to adjust to the idea that a regular idiot in America has the freedom to say incredibly stupid things on a crappy video and nobody in America gives a shit, no one with a properly functioning brain anyway.
Lets be realistic, we are not going to start restricting free speech in the way we are being asked to, we can’t and stay true to the principals our Constitution and thusly, "The American Dream", are founded on. So forget that and take a deep breath, there’s no need to panic. We are simply bearing witness to a period of certified historical transformation. This is big news people, so we need to understand whats really going on here...
The American Dream is being re-born as the Human Dream. Get the forceps ready doctor, it’s gonna be a bitch of a delivery.
So let’s get down to the real question: If the American Dream really does go global into places where despair and desperation have always ruled, then will there be any dreams left for us? We Americans have consistently consumed 25% of the planet’s available resources for generations. Maintaining that ratio with all the new competition is going to be really tough. Maybe we could learn to make do with a little less here and there? Use what we have more wisely, perhaps. Do we really need all the crap we carry around? Seriously, it’s a lot of crap.
So what really matters to me? What is my American Dream?
For me its family, friends and this moment; learn everything you can, pay attention inside your life, own your crap, and try to remember that it really isn’t always about you.
There isn’t a price tag or a finish line for the American Dream anymore if there ever really was; its value cannot be summed up in a spread sheet or a retirement account. He with the most toys does not really win anything. If he did, Rush Limbaugh would be a much more cheerful guy.
If you need a big house or an over-sized life to be fulfilled and happy then as an American I say good on ya! Go for it, that’s your right as an American. But as a human, I have to say I’d rather you…
Invest your time in what drives you and satisfies your inner fire.
But don’t let it burn others.
Find your family and stay true to them.
But don’t ask for more than you are giving back.
The American/Human Dream is best defined by the dreamers themselves. Our government and the people who administer it should have this as their highest, most sacred canon to be protected as the cradle of all that is worth a damn in us. But if the rest of the human world wants to get their piece of the dream, then speaking only for myself, I can get by with a smaller slice.
What is your American/Human Dream? Comment below and I will answer.
I am Edd Webb and I am responsible for this meme.
Balance… we must find it before it finds us. Adjust or be adjusted.
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