While standing in a grocery line the other day, I heard one declaredly unemployed man ask another what was so great about the American dream. Not wanting to be impolite, I said nothing. However, I could not help but formulate an answer on the spot: simply put, the American dream is the desire to get ahead. It lives in all of us, including most of those who have long since given up on it. Unfortunately, in our modern economy, it seems to be more elusive than ever before. Even sol, the fabled dream survives for any American who has reasonable ambition and the drive to accomplish something greater in life,
Why is this so important? Why should the American dream receive so much attention? What could possibly make it so special? In a twenty-first century which promises our children jobs of a lower quality than those of their parents, who in their right mind could be so naive as to be an American dreamer? To this I ask, what is the alternative? If the economy itself is ever to recover, doesn’t it need serious innovation to do so? If we continually live in a land of pessimism, with any kind of reasonable optimism being reflexively dismissed, where does this leave us as a country?
If too few of us are taking the American dream with more than a grain of salt, the government will become the the source of financial support, along with its concomitant dependency, for the vast majority of Americans. Of course, this can’t last for very long; the government needs tax revenue to function. If its revenue stops, the government will cease to exist, leaving only anarchy in its wake. For this reason alone, the American dream cannot be relegated to the ash heap of history. It is too precious, and dark as those storm clouds overhead may be, the Dream carries the possibility of productivity in the near future.
This is why it must prevail. As a society, we have no other choice.