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Monday, May 22, 2006

The American Dream...revealed

The term "American Dream" is almost a mythical phrase now. It's so firmly planted in the US national consciousness as to seem primeval. I think it's mostly equated these days with something like 'every American may attain great wealth, power and success, no matter how humble their start'. It has morphed, for many, to include a new SUV, 15 minutes on Oprah and home ownership, no matter what the debtload. I'm afraid facts don't prove that particular dream as being successful. Among industrialized nations, only Mexico and Russia rank lower in terms of poverty growing for example. The gap between rich and poor has grown immensely in the past 20 years. It's becoming more difficult for many Americans to put food on the table, let alone own a home and have decent health care.

But now to my point (you sigh with relief):

Most historians believe that the term 'American Dream' was coined by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book The Epic of America. The American vision, he wrote is:

The dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of their birth or position.

Now that's a dream to revive and to work for...for every nation. Agree?

The legend of American dream has inspired people of all continents to dream for a better future, for full realization of one's worth but sadly now the American Dream has mutated for most of the American themselves taking shape of gas-guzzling SUVs and a suburb villa..Its time that the original American Dream comes back to the life of average Americans..
I truly wish to say something to this topic, but alas I am so tired that I need to dive into a dream world myself.
Tomorrow is an other day.
Maybe that is the new American Dream: Tomorrow is an other day ... come to think of.
Speaking of the American Dream, the new Chevy Tahoe body style is pretty snazzy. I prefer the look of the grill on the GMC Yukon.
Bohemian - interesting take once again! I like the 1952 Chev Belair - especially with whitewalls.
Time to move on from the dream to the practical aspects of a wellbeing manifesto to be incorporated into our political thinking and vision.

A wellbeing manifesto focuses on the measurement of our general wellbeing. That is to measure our success in the extent or otherwise of its expression in quantifiable ideals.

Amongst other things: our community wellbeing can be determined to the extent :

A democracy is present to meet the material and the basic needs of the community.

Enhances freedom, evident in supportive friends and family;

Has a minimum standard for work that provides measurable adequate income;and reward.

Has reasonable standards of health and treats actively mental health problems;

Encourages personal goals based upon ones values.

Promotes a philosophy with guiding principles that enhance a sense of purpose or meaning to one’s life.

Its time for politics to start measuring the success or otherwise of societies, to enhance the quality of debate away from its current crudenes in thought.

Try an opinion poll in different countries based upon these questions !

Best wishes
Very good manifesto Lindsay. I think that some countries are measuring some of these things (Denmark for one), but many simply race along as if the economy drives everything that could possibly be good.

My addition to the list would be something about putting our natural environment first & thinking ahead several generations in decisions around it.
my 2 cents?

children's rights, and that, I think Gary is part of taking care of our environment, for future generations and not the next election. and I don't just mean in Canada and the US, I mean globally.

I live in a place I 'jokingly' call Pleasantville. The 'American Dream' is in full steam here. Not SUVs - Hummers. McMansions on every square inch of prime lots. 6 year olds with Ipods and cell phones, it goes on and on. But hey, its (last I heard) the #1 place to raise kids in America! (sound appropriate music) - lets teach 'em some good ol' American values here...
(I, btw live in a small house with a big garden - there are a few here)


I must stop or this will morph into a blog of its own! ;-)
now there's a dream worth having...
Reminds me also of the famous speech of a guy named Martin Luther King Jr. too. I remember really admiring his thoughts when I read that speech for the first time in highschool..
a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of their birth or position.

can give you.... Joseph Stalin (a shoemaker's son) and Adolf Hitler (son of a low ranking customs officer) (and many more like them). I'm reminded of Orwell and Animal Farm.

isn't the American Dream just about individual attainment, not society's progress and aren't the two more or less mutually exclusive in reality? In a capitalist society, for one man to succeed another must fail.

this may be what Lindsay Lobe is referring to. if it is, I agree.
America has a complex psyche - there are the myths of Land of Opportunity, Equality, Freedom, Innovation, Cradle of Democracy... and like most myths, there some truth inside each.

Behind the myths there are some truths:
- founded through genocide, cultural destruction and built on slavery
- developed by the extremely wealthy and powerful
- amazing government intervention in everything from land giveaways to the railroad expansions
- a colonial power, with a string of foreign invasions under its belt
- loves classism like you wouldn't believe (think celebrity and wealth)

All in all, a damn interesting (and important) nation. May the essence of the American dream turn to a collective view of progress.

I believe the Americans dream!
Now that sounds like a dream worth striving for.

Interesting blog AND responses, Gary.
"loves classism like you wouldn't believe (think celebrity and wealth)." Loves wealth and celebrity, but not so much class.
Good one Jublu!

How can you say there ain't no class sister? Haven't you seen the Donald fire people? Or Oprah give everyone in the audience a car? Or George Bush reading to grades school kids?

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