Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is it dead?

This is one of my favorite semesters of school I have ever had! Life is so great right now I can't even believe it, but yesterday I was in one of my classes and we talked about something that is one of my passions...the American Dream. First off, let me just establish my major is American Studies, so obviously I have some pretty strong opinions on these subjects ;) "The American Dream" is something that is quite often discussed and something I have always loved, however, oftentimes when it is discussed, I feel like people scoff and say that the American Dream is a myth. In my class yesterday the class basically came to a consensus that the American Dream is dead. I disagreed and explained my reasoning, but no one sided with me, but that wasn't what bothered me, what bothered me was trying to figure out is it just me? Am I naive? Is it dead? And here is what I decided...

First, to analyze this, we have to establish what the American Dream is in our minds- since I'm the one doing the talking here, I think I'll establish what it is to me ;) To me the American Dream is the possibility that if you are willing to work hard, you can rise in your station, that you do not have to be what your parents or grandparents were whether that is monetarily or emotionally, it is the belief and the hope that we can change. After a lot of thinking I decided, if this kind of thinking is naive, I will take it and I hope to be "naive" forever, because if I ever lose this hope that I can be/do whatever I want if I am willing to put in the work , then what is the point of work?

Above are some of my heroes. The first picture is of my family way back when, and I don't have a picture of my Dad's parents on my computer so, I just showed the product of them- my family! :) and the second picture is of my Mom's parents. These people in large, are a huge reason why I am so adamant about the American Dream. My Dad's parents (first picture representation), were alive in the Depression. He fought in World War II and she took a job spotting fighter planes on the beach, they had nothing, but worked their way to the top. The second picture, my Mom's parents are amazing as well. My Grandpa was born in a log cabin, literally and decided he wanted church and education in his life, so he became active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and went to school. He married the love of his life, provided for an ever-growing family while a student in college, then he went and received his masters. Right when he was born, someone could have looked at him and predicted where his life might go and predicted that he would never get an education, etc. however, they would be wrong, because he was willing to fight for this dream.

I shared that story in class and my teacher said, well does anyone have an example of the opposite? I thought about it, and decided I know lots of people who work really hard and choose to have a good attitude despite all the things that happen to them and therefore, they are happy, yet I know many who try and then bad things happen to them , so they give up and decide to be miserable, therefore, obviously, happiness is a myth- correct? Of course not, that is absurd. I need to clarify that I know many people work extremely hard to rise in their station of life and are not able to because of unfortunate circumstances- I do not wish to downplay that or claim that they just did not work hard enough, because I do not believe that at all, the people I am addressing are the ones that say we will never get there, therefore we will not try and the American Dream is Dead. Is it dead because it's impossible or is it dead because notions of hope and hard work are dead inside of us? We live in a day in age when if we have to walk a block, we are really upset about it and if we have to cook something on the stove which may take ten minutes rather than 2 in the microwave- we are so upset. I think maybe the American Dream is dead because we no longer know how to work like our grandparents and we have allowed media and cynicism to turn us into a pessimistic people who have no hope. I believe, however, if we are willing to work and hope- we can be/do whatever we want that God sees fit for us in our lives and that, to me is the American Dream and is most definitely not dead.

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