In today's America we hear about the dangers of losing the American dream. We are so inclined to think of this as the house on the hill with the white picket fence. When did this happen? When did we supplement the concepts and ideals with material needs? With the recent issues with in the housing market, (you know that bubble popping) we can see this material concept truly threatened. However I ask when did we replace the concepts with constructs? The concepts were what our founding fathers saw as the dream, yet we have replaced them with the concrete drive way. The two car garage, the sedan, have transposed the principles that were declared as inalienable rights. Freedom replaced with a yearning for a good credit score in this new measurement of the American dream.
In the eighties Henry Bonilla said "Part of the American dream is to own your own property something no one can take from you." This however was not the beginning of this material fascination. You can see this with the advent of radio. Advertisements begin to bombard us linking our personal value with the status symbols. We stray from the views of our founding fathers who talk about reverse materialism. Thomas Jefferson said that "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” and to connect it to the more material views of today you get “Information is the currency of democracy.” It is this material fixation that has over twenty percent of our children living in poverty. It is this "I need to get mine" attitude that afflicts us. We have shifted from the selfless willing to die for a dream, to the selfish looking to buy a dream.
While many will say that capitalism has conditioned our values to external validation and place our material esteem over our initial concept of what it means to be an American. Yes, for a capitalistic society to thrive things must be consumed. We have had generations to teach ourselves and our children to feed that beast. It is not that though that is our down fall. It is that target fixation. We are so focused on the material aspects of capitalism and do not see the variety of other things that make up being an American. It is the concepts that can not be bought. It is the personal freedoms that we all have, but it also the celebration of those concepts and ideals that make us who we are.
"We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra." Tyler Durden was ahead of his time. This is how we define our happiness. We are the teak table. We are not free breathing creature that we tell ourselves we want to be. We are wasted potential. We are lost and lonely. A man without a purpose is not a man at all. If we are to ever be happy, we have to remake and reclaim the American dream. You should be more than a line of credit that is contained in the walls of a house with a white picket fence. We are freedom. We are the embodiment of liberty. We are Americans damn it, and that used to mean something.
The American dream is lived in the smile of the immigrant. It is the man who came from nothing, and gave his children the greatest gift of all. He gave them a future. We gave them more than just a house, we gave them options. The tea party was held in Boston not to enforce one groups views on the masses, but rather to free each and everyone of us from those masses. Happiness is not what other people tell you, but rather what you know is already in your heart. It is not how many think the way you do, or how many zeros are on the left side of the decimal.
So we have to peel back the layers or pretty wrapping paper, and look inside the box. We can look past the house and see the true gift our founding fathers gave us. We have to look past the pretty wrappings that fade with time. It is not the light of the fire that warms you. That is just the beauty we all see and enjoy, but the warmth we feel comes from the embers. It is that ember that burns in the heart of our country. It is those embers that warm our minds and inspire us to get out of bed. That is the real American dream.