theunemploymentchronicles

The American Dream

Is The American Dream Dead?

While wiping tables, I remember talking to our customers, many of whom were homeless or without jobs, tell me about their living conditions and how they ended up on the streets. Some owed their fate to dementia and medical conditions, while others made bad decisions in their youth. Yet, a majority were in love with God and often spoke of the Lords blessing. Despite their faith in God and his goodness, one man’s comment summed it up: “What American Dream? The American Dream doesn’t exist. “

My whole life up to that point was the belief that hard work gets you places. I just could not understand how they ended up that way. If my immigrant parents who can’t even speak English were able to build for themselves, why couldn’t the next John Doe? Mind you, this conversation took place way before the economic recession, when the economy was still relatively well off. At that time, the discrepancy between my parents’ outcome and those on the streets perplexed me. How is it that two fresh off the boat refugees end up with the classic American Dream but the Americans born into privilege, more specifically English speaking and writing skills, cannot? Four years later, today, I still have no clear answer.

So, has the American Dream died? Perhaps. It would be unfair to say that those who have not achieved the American Dream are lazy. Yet again, no one can argue that hard work doesn’t pay off. Perhaps it is how much one saves or how well one allocates  finances that determines those that can afford the financial aspect of the Dream. Perhaps, there is a problem in the way people define the American Dream – that there is a new American Dream that exists, though undefined. Perhaps, we have to stop looking at the American Dream as one that is intricately tied to monetary success.

Whatever the case, times have changed. But it is always good to keep in mind the Chinese proverb: There will always be a wave in the back that pushes the waves in the front. This saying essentially means that the there will always be someone to replace you, therefore you should always continue to learn and stay at the top of your game. So regardless of whether the American Dream has died or not, if you stay sharp, you won’t fall too short.

By T. A.

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