A dream can be defined as a vision of which one indulges in while awake; a daydream for example. While many may dream of some celebrity, an embarrassing moment in high school or of winning the lottery, possibly, the most shared vision is the American Dream. This dream is one that a person indulges in with an intense desire to have it become reality while awake and preferably while one is healthy enough to enjoy it.
There are numerous texts about the American Dream; what it is and how to obtain it. Although, pride and sentiment are a part of this ethos, the Dream is mostly materialistic in nature and personal. A person can dream about a fancy car, a luxurious home, a large bank balance, active and intelligent children, a beautiful or handsome lover, a high-yielding career, the most up-to-date electronic devices, a designer wardrobe, elite social status and the list can go on.
The nice thing about a dream while you are asleep is that there is no limit; except for maybe a time limit when you have to get up in the morning. However, the dynamics and possibilities are unrestricted. A dream that “one indulges in while awake” could mean that while you were dreaming about coasting down the interstate in a brand new car, your credit isn’t good enough for the lease. Your home is going into foreclosure while you are dreaming about a nicer home. While you are dreaming of what it would be like to have a couple of hundred dollars cash to blow on whatever, real money is being debited from your account and going to creditors. Your children are being taught in school how to grow up and just be mediocre citizens while you fantasize about them in law school or medical. Dreams indulged in the wakeful state can end in misery and disappointment. That’s why the American Dream that was once a fiery fantasy of patriotism, power and purpose is, now, a dark reminder of what many cannot have.
The American Dream, if it were an object, would be like Santa’s bag. However, instead of toys it would hold other dreams. It contains “the dream car,” “the dream school,” “the dream wedding,” “the dream house” and of course the “the dream job.” Just like the others, the dream job can be obliterated or lost like individualism surrounded by thousands.
Swaying from many doors and in windows of apartments and houses along New York streets is the American flag; the star-spangled, red, white and blue banner. Even though, it’s been documented that the colors of the flag don’t have any official reason, the 50 stars do. They have dual meaning. In 1777 it was written, by the House of Representatives, that the star was “a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial.” The second meaning of the stars on the flag is to represent the 50 states. Now, a third interpretation can be added. It would be that each star represents the 280,000 jobless U.S. citizens; 14 million people as latest reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Historian, Nancy Wierek, said that there was once a time in the nation’s history when the “majority of Americans… were in a position to spend money on many things they wanted, desired, or chose to have, rather than on necessities alone.” Other historians describe life in the United States, post- World War II, as a time of prosperity for the people. Between 1945 and 1960, consumerism skyrocketed. People were able to buy appliances that made work easier. Middle-class citizens were able to buy homes. Millions of jobs were to be had. Even non-union workers saw a pay increase and benefits. The American Dream was just about in everybody’s mind. By the ’60s nearly all industries were offering paid vacation to its workers.
Unfortunately, this period of time was difficult for minorities. The Civil Rights Movement was a fight for Blacks to be treated as true Americans. It was harder for them and other minorities to achieve the American Dream. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech was about his dream that, sadly, to this day, many U.S. citizens aren’t waking up to. A a good example of how minorities are still struggling to live their “life,” lacking in “liberty” and failing in “the pursuit of happiness” is In New York City. The Black and Latino unemployment rate is significantly higher than any other groups.
President Obama addressed Congress on September 8, 2011 to talk about the American Jobs Act. It is a bill he doesn’t pretend will solve the problems facing our nation but he promises that, if passed, will bring more jobs to construction workers, teachers, veterans and the long-term unemployed. He spoke of how the bill will “repair and modernize” a large number of schools across the country. He also told in his speech how middle-class would see tax cuts, tax relief will be felt by small business owners and credits available for companies that proactively hire new employees.
Along with numeric figures and practical examples, his speech was a call out to all Americans fasking them to believe in their country again. Pres. Obama pled with the nation not to close off from the American Dream. He said that what he “won’t do is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.” He later proclaimed that “if we act as one nation, and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.” The challenge is to help people keep the faith. The country added no new jobs last month. Whether you are looking for work or not, that should be a scary fact. No matter what your political convictions may be, or if you make up a part of Pres. Obama’s current disapproval rating, it is obvious that he knows many people are “living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day,” he admitted towards the end of his speech.
Things don’t look good right now. However, looks can be deceiving. Whether indulging while awake or visualizing in slumber, what is being experienced by many people may be more like the American Nightmare than it is a dream. In this time of fear, hopelessness and despair, remember that this country wasn’t built by one person. People worked together. “We have been, and will always be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Pres. Obama reminded. As there are many people who continue to struggle, may they continue to have the strength to fight. May they have the patience and faith to keep the Dream alive.