It has been quite an experience to listen to the news, read newspapers or look at social media over the past five or so years. During this time something that feels almost sinister has happened within our culture, and few have noticed it. What I mean is that there has been a noticeable shift in what people “think” the American dream is. In fact, the entire view of American life in general has been misrepresented, repackaged and sold in such a way that a whole generation now looks at our lifestyle with distain and even disgust. Sadly, most who think this way don’t even know why.
The shift was subtle and well thought out at first. It slithered its way unnoticed into our culture through voices that came from places of national power. It targeted specific socio-economic groups and succeeded in unleashing a victim mentality into our culture. It actually became the rallying cry of the uninformed in the last two elections. It flew out of the mouths of those who promoted racial unrest and fed the misguided “occupy” movement that soon fizzled out. It has found its way into our classrooms and manifested false accusations across the nation and around the world. It was taught to those who are locked into the welfare system. Those who want more but have done nothing to earn or deserve it greeted it with applause, and shouts of approval.
What am I referring to? It’s the current false idea being promoted that says the “American dream” is really all about personal greed, and withholding the wealth from those who have need of it. It falsely says Americans selfishly want bigger homes, bigger cars, higher pay and longer vacations, while the rest of the world silently starves to death or suffers from no clean drinking water. It is the twisted concept that says being a successful entrepreneur makes you the enemy, and those with innovative ideas that generate profit, really can’t be trusted. Even worst, is the lie that bigger government is in our best interest, and it alone can solve the social evils of our day.
It is a negative, socialistic view that is against every concept uniquely productive to the “American dream”. The fact is, a huge portion of our population has been taught a new version of the “American dream”. That version has nothing at all to do with what it really is. They see the ability of Americans to pursue personal success and financial independence, as bad. All the while, they view dependency in every form, with no responsibility or personal consequences, to be normal life, and a sure way to secure the future. It points a finger at the well-off and says they are greedy and care nothing for the plight of the less fortunate. Those, who through planning, training and education, have earned the abundance it offers, are loudly accused of wanting endless excess for their highly privileged life. They are considered to be evil, and are painted as selfishly refusing to “spread the wealth”, so others can have the same.
Yet when you go back and honestly look at what the “American dream” is, it has nothing to do with any of the above. In fact it was because of this dream that social reforms happened globally, and financial resources were made available in abundance to those who were less fortunate. So let’s revisit what the “American dream” really is. Let’s cut through the noxious political smokescreen and look at our roots so we can clearly see that dream, and it’s powerful, positive impact.
The American Dream
At the beginning of the 1900’s and right after World War 2, the “American dream” began to take shape. It centered on a few basic concepts that were attainable by all. Those who worked hard, were honest and wanted to be part of a healthy community could live this dream. It was there for anybody, and the life it provided was a blessing that spread far beyond individual families. That dream consisted of a few things people simply desired to have, and they went after them.
First of all was the idea that anyone who wanted to live in their own place, could do so. We are not talking about a massive 30 room house, or a movie star mansion on the California beach. It was a simple, comfortable place where people could settle down and raise a family. That was it! There was nothing fancy or greedy about the idea. Everyone wanted a place to call home so the family could gather together on special occasions and history could be made.
Next was the belief that every American could be properly trained to do some kind of work. All labor was considered worthwhile, and everyone could have a job that paid according to their skill, education or training. You worked with your back or your brain, and that was up to you. Those who did not want more education learned a trade and found gainful employment by working with their hands. They provided basic services everyone wanted and needed. Those who went on to college earned a higher wage, and they provided different services to people. Everyone determined their own income in life, and there was no complaining or whining about where they put themselves.
Third on the list was that welfare put people in a humiliating place to be in. Those who needed it were in a temporary season of financial distress, but no one wanted it. They took it because they had to have it in order to survive. It was not a way of life, and it was never to be a replacement for a paying job. Those who lived immoral, rebellious, addictive lives never expected to receive welfare. If you had children outside of marriage, if you were a drunk, a drug addict, if you refused to finish school or were rebellious to authority, you were on your own and needed to change your life. People had to be responsible for their own anti-social behavior and the fear of suffering the consequences prevented many from going that way. The bottom line was simple, welfare only provided the bare basics, and by so doing, people were motivated to get off it as quickly as possible.
Number four is that the “American dream” was a belief that everyone had the right to be safe and secure in their own dwelling. The federal government, the state, county and local authorities, and especially criminals, were not going to break down your door, drag your possessions away or kill you. If your home was invaded, you had the right to own a gun, and it was expected that you would shoot to protect yourself and your family. People shot first and then the police asked the questions latter. Everyone believed their home was a place of safety and refuge. No one was going to break in and try to take anything from you unless they had a death wish.
Fifth on the list of the “American dream” was the belief that people had the right to start and run a business. They could use their skills, gifts and talents to make a living and provide for their family. They would not be overtaxed or overburdened by endless rules and mindless regulations. They had the right to have family and friends be employed and that was good for everyone. They also had the right not to be crushed by government regulations, health insurance, unemployment insurance, massive retirement packages, federal, state, county and local town taxes and rules.
Sixth on the list of the “American dream” was the ideal that no one would be over-run by petty theft and angry looters. The disgraceful and outright criminal behavior of those caught on film in Ferguson clearly demonstrates the shocking shift in cultural character. Police stood by as those with this new “entitlement mentality” thought nothing of smashing, looting and burning the homes, vehicles and stores of innocent people. Why? Because they believed a twisted idea of the “American dream”, and it justified them to do so.
Last of all on the list was that everyone had the promise of becoming more than what they were. No one in America was locked into an oppressive cast system as it has been in Europe, Muslim countries and the Far East. No matter what color you were, what gender, what job you had, what country you came from, or what your beliefs you held, you could become more. Every American could be whatever they wanted. All could get an education. All could learn new skills, and all could make a better life for themselves and their family. Best of all, no one would try to stop them from trying. It only took hard work, dedication, personal sacrifice and genuine commitment. With enough time and effort anyone could change their future.
That’s it folks! That’s what the “American dream” was and still is. It is not the politically incorrect trash that is being propagated today. It is not greedy Americans looking out for themselves and their own self-interests. It is not the failed socialist ideology that thinks capitalism is disgraceful and wealth is disgusting. The “American dream” is based in truth and hope. It is the belief that all Americans, men and women of any color or creed, can live peacefully together and all can prosper. All they need to do is take full advantage of their own gifts and skills in this amazing culture of opportunity.
The “American dream” is the treasure of optimism that our nation was, and is still being built upon. It is the belief that we, as Americans, have the power to create a better life, and by so doing we can set the example for others to follow and they can come up from where they are. It is not the free “hand out” mentality of expensive government programs. It is a helping “hand up” reality, that is built upon a solid foundation of Christian work ethics. This is the “American dream”, and it is a beautiful thing!
I, for one, will not allow dishonest politicians, disgruntled religious leaders or the disillusioned and easily manipulated masses, redefine this nation. I will hold to what really makes America great. It’s the power to choose my own destiny, for myself. Success or failure is my responsibility, and I will not let it be decided for me. It’s the knowledge that I can be better than what I am, and it’s up to me to have a vision, and make a plan for what my future will be.
Is the “American dream” in your heart? If there isn’t then you need to get hold of it. If it is, then you need to grab hold of it and don’t let it go. Other nations will rise and fall, other leaders will come and go, but the “American dream”, with its foundation solidly anchored in Biblical truth, will outlast them all. Presidents may lie, lawmakers may fail to accomplish anything, but that dream lives on. My prayer is that we will push aside the false ideology that has tried to redefine America. Let us dream again of what is here, and let us believe again that hard working Americans can build for themselves what others may never have.
I believe in the real America, not the one some politicians have tried to force on me. I believe in the real “American dream”, not the one some hatefilled radicals have tried to put before my eyes. No matter what leaders may say, no matter what unjust laws may be dictated with the stroke of a pen, there are hundreds of millions of Americans who believe in the real America. Most encouraging of all, I know that our voices will be heard as they were in the 2014 elections. That voice came as a shocking reality to many, because it was the battle cry of open resistance to the radical redefinition of America.
When the votes are counted in 2016 the war to recover, and re-strengthen this nation will be well under way. In the mean time Americans must wake up and see what has happened. We must strive to recover the freedom of choice that is being stolen from us by the stroke of a pen and crushing new laws it forced upon us. It is time to return to the values and power of the real “American dream”. If we will do this, our nation can begin to blossom once again. If we fail in this critical hour, we will head down the same dark road that Europe is already on.
I believe we can rise to the occasion. I believe we can hold dear those cherished principles and truths our forefathers bled and died for. I believe, with God’s help, and the right person in the Whitehouse, we can once again have God’s blessing on this amazing nation. Most of all, I believe in the “American dream” and that it is still here for anyone who wants it. If we hold fast to that dream in our own heart, and move with passion into the dream of this nation, we will make a difference. May God richly bless this wonderful land we lovingly call America, for it truly is beautiful!