Thursday, September 11, 2008

The American Dream?

As we well know, a state is the physical boundary that defines the legitimacy of a country, it is a legal entity defined by a sovereign government, a human population, and is recognized by other countries. A nation, though, is a congregation of people with a shared sense of belonging and community. It is directly tied to an emotional connectedness with others in your "nation", those others often share similarities in race, culture, ethnicity, or language. A nation is essentially an imagined community, that may or may not transcend state lines (i.e. Nation of Islam). Then, there is the nation-state, and while no country fits this definition in it's purest form, some countries, Sweden for example, are quite close. A nation-state would require an entire nation of people to be the only group within a state. America is not a nation-state in that sense of the word, but it prides itself on it's "melting pot" mantra. What makes America, in the eyes of most American's at least, the greatest country on earth? Most would answer, the ability to be anything you want to become, or rather, the idea of "The American Dream", that if you work hard you can become whatever it is you want to become in this world. Well, I've got news for you, the American dream is a crock. The fact that we continue to sell pipe dreams to these kids, that anyone can be a doctor or a lawyer, is only handicapping the mentality of people, who conclude their life with an inevitable disappointment after falling short of the lofty goals that American politicians and figureheads lay out in front of them when they are children. It's easy for arrogant college students to say that if people work hard, like they did, they can wind up in a college classroom well on their way to a successful life. Now, don't get me wrong, wealth is not always the best way to measure success in life, but, for the time being we will define a successful life as getting the job you desired, being adequately compensated for that job, and having a fair crack at achieving your dreams. Unfortunately, what many fail to realize is that when you, your parents, and your parents parents, dating all the way back to the first World War, were systematically and institutionally set up for failure, it is not so easy to pull yourself up from your bootstraps and become a success story. Sure, you can find examples of successful individuals who came from the worst situations you could imagine, but, the reason we know so much about them is because they are exceptions to the rule. Take a walk down Southeast, Washington, D.C. and talk to the people you see. Ask them, why they didn't just work hard like all of the American heroes we read about, ask a woman who works three manually taxing jobs to support a family why she didn't just work harder and become a dentist. Go ahead. See what kind of responses you get. You people need to wake up and realize what's going on in the world around you, stop basing your knowledge of everything in life on what you see in movies and base it around what actually happens in the real world. Stop telling kids that they can be whatever they want, instead tell them about the obstacles they will invariably face, and if you can, throw some knowledge their way about how to get around those obstacles. I could go on forever, about this, but you get the point.

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