Tuesday, November 29, 2011

notebook ramblings by K.V. Sart

On The American Dream

          Hunter S. Thompson went searching for the American Dream in Las Vegas, but all he found was a fear and loathing.  He pronounced the American Dream officially dead; estimated time of death: the 1950’s.
            I do not agree with Dr. Duke's conclusion.  Rather, it seems the American Dream has mutated into an untenable form.  So what happened to the American Dream?  What made the American Dream so great in the first place, and what did it mean when it was great?
            It is in our best interest to preserve the belief in the American dream, though what we have now is not a believable dream.  It is a pipe dream.  A convoluted piece of rhetoric and capitalism run amok. 
By preserve I mean that this concept should be possible to all those who are willing to work to achieve it.  There is often talk about the death of the American dream.  It is said that the American Dream has become exactly that, a dream, an illusive conception that is unattainable.
            The overwhelming majority of people reach for unattainable goals.  They make wealth or fame the goal of life.  This is what the American dream has become; to be in the top tear of wealth, or to achieve some great social status and fame.
            But clearly this goal is not feasible.  We cannot all be in the richest class.  That is obvious.  So let us look at the beginning.
            The American Dream in its original form was something along the lines of working hard in ones life to achieve a comfortable level of living, and the ability to support loved one’s if they need it.  That is the heart of the American Dream.  That is what this country once represented.  I add to this that the goal oriented portion of the American Dream is directed at finding a means of livelihood in which one is comfortable, challenged, and engaged.
            But what is it now?  Now the American Dream is to be a millionaire or famous.  Where the American Dream once represented a drive towards a comfortable middle class lifestyle, it now represents a neurotic obsession with accruing  power and wealth.
            The American Dream of our generation ignores that most of the wealthiest or most famous reached that point partially through luck.  That is not to say that there was not any hard work, but from working hard one should only expect that they will lead a comfortable life.
            Of course, I do not wholly blame those who engage with this new American Dream.  It is merely a part of the ethos of our time, a societal condition that has arisen for whatever reason.  Part of the problem is that our society is set up in such a way that there are not enough working positions to challenge and engage everyone, this we see in high unemployment rates.
            So where do we go from here?  Certainly we should expect that a good society will allow those who work hard to find a sort of happiness and comfort from life.  That is what a free society should strive for.  But we should also temper our expectations and demands of what we think we deserve.

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