"The American Dream is Alive..."
I once had a mentor who would use this as an opening line to his sales presentations. He continued by saying "and you can have it, if you just take the time to learn how to get it."
Realizing my time in Taiwan is coming to an end, I've been reflecting on what my life will be like when I return to the States. Having lived here a year, I am now somewhat of an "international citizen." So, that leaves me asking: What is the American Dream? Do I want part in it?
Recently, a Russian scholar predicted that there is "a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010,” (FoxNews.com, 03/04/09). Talk about a welcome home party...
The scholar went on to say, "What's happened is the collapse of the American dream."
What is this thing called the American Dream? Is it different for everyone?
Writing this, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a Taiwanese student, early in my trip. "America is a place where you can be anything you want to!" He stated emphatically, and slightly distressed.
Is that the American Dream?
Freedom to choose your own destiny in life - like those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books I read as a kid? (Confession: I often cheated at those.)
I always heard the American Dream was "Man, Wife, 2.5 Kids and a Picket Fence." But frankly, that's not necessarily all that desirable to me. If that's the American Dream, I might just pass.
Wikipedia (yes, I wiki'd "American Dream") defines it as such:
A national ethos unique to the United States of America in which democratic ideals are perceived as a hope-filled view of the prosperity of its people... citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a "better, richer, and happier life." The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal" and that they have "certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Much more desirable, when worded that way, and much closer to the Taiwanese Student's notion of America.
Interestingly enough, however, the article goes on to say The American Dream has "been blamed for overinflated expectations of its people," and:
...has not historically helped the majority of minority race and lower class American citizens to gain a greater degree of social equality and influence. Instead, the American Dream has often been observed to sustain class differences in which well-positioned groups continue to be advantaged.
Well, if that's the truth behind the American Dream, I'm not sure I want it either.
Awhile back, my dad pointed me towards that quote by the Russian Scholar, and to a website which notes "A democracy is temporary in Nature."
The site went on to state that in the history of the world, the greatest Democracies have ran an average 200 year life-cycle:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- From spiritual faith to great courage;
- From courage to liberty;
- From liberty to abundance;
- From abundance to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependence;
- From dependence back into bondage.
My dad - a frequent reader of not just The Drift, but also its comments - shared these links with me in hopes of gleaning your opinions and input on all of this. He considers the community here to be globally diverse and well opinionated. (He also thinks you're all extremely bright and incredibly good looking...) So, in honor of Father's Day, I turn his request over to you:
- Does this "cycle" ring true with you?
- If so: Where in it do you feel America lies?
- What is "The American Dream"? Is it something a Taiwanese National (or others) could(/should?) aspire to?
- What will "the collapse" look like? What will have been its cause?
- What should I do when I return home in September?
[Photo Credit: This Site, thanks to Google.]