American Dream becoming just a dream to U.S. citizensBy Mazie Bryant | 02/18/2013 11:00pm
What is the American Dream? It’s a phrase thrown around in today’s society to inspire and encourage people to make something of themselves, but what does it encompass?
The values our founding fathers built this nation on promise freedom and protection, attractive qualities for those without such luxuries. Over time, that freedom became commercialized, and the American Dream came to mean something more concrete than it did in the past.
Now, the American Dream means things: expensive cars, monstrous mansions, trendy clothing and extravagant jewelry.
Our ancestors seized their new found freedom, channeled it into success and provided for their families. Now, we just take it for granted.
Last weekend I was sitting in the back of a taxi at 4 a.m. on my way to Gatwick Airport in London, England, to catch a flight back home to Edinburgh, Scotland. My aggravatingly early-morning-peppy taxi driver – after discovering I was from the United States – began vehemently describing his love for my home country. Everything and everyone is beautiful, drives nice convertibles and is wealthy, he said. He explained it as the American Dream.
It had been a while since I had heard that phrase. When you live in the American culture, the phrase seems fictitious or exaggerated. It’s just how it is. But living abroad, the American Dream is most certainly more than that.
In America, our freedom is translated into our right: We have the right to bear arms, we have the right to affordable health insurance, we have the right to welfare and social security. We somehow feel entitled to have things that a majority of the world somehow manages to live without.
I have come to realize that the American Dream is exactly what it is: a dream.
Living in the U.S., I constantly felt stressed, striving to have the best resume that would get me the best job so I could own the best house to accommodate the best family. It is a system of competition to gain what we feel we deserve. However, living in other parts of the world, I realize that happiness is in the moment, not in the tangible.
America is competitive as a nation, and we consistently analyze and worry over the seemingly negative aspects of our government and our society. There are always mistakes or problems. But when will our way of life be good? Or when will it just be OK?
Complaining is a common occurrence in our society, as we are constantly searching for perfect. We want to lead the world, but maybe it is time to take a step back. Maybe it is time to stop being unsatisfied, and maybe it is time to realize what we already have is so much. Will we ever notice when life is good? Probably not in the moment. It will most likely be too late.
Mazie Bryant is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly.
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