So my dad’s back from Korea finally and we had this interesting conversation during dinner about what the American Dream is and the prospect of a contemporary average Joe achieving such status.
We both agreed that the American Dream is up to personal interpretation, although we added that monetary success serves the primary motivation, as it does to every human action if one were to look through my eyes of cynicism. Alas, there is a slight catch to the definition of a rather ambiguous term in that American Dream should be accessible to everyone regardless of gender, race, and social class. To add to that, the success that results from this pursuit of American Dream should stem from working a job we truly enjoy. Isn’t that only so logical? Isn’t that what dream is, ultimately? A cherished hope?
So what if you make $200k a year working at a law firm when your true passion lies in paleontology, stopping world hunger, the fine arts, English literature, praising God, fighting homophobia, 20th popular culture, the French language, playing the classical guitar…you get it.
American Gothic 21st Century Version
I understand that the concept American Dream especially applies to immigrants, such as myself. We are systematically taught at an early age that what we can’t do here, we can do in the USA. Those naïve aspirations I had as a kid gradually became disillusioned and believe it or not, what once used to be abstract and indescribably romantic visions are now mere numbers.
Is my 2150 SAT score good enough? Would UCLA consider it competent? What about Boston College? I got an 89.5 in the class…Ms. Macmanus, can that be rounded up to an A? Please? PLEASE? Yeah? Oh my God, I love you I love you I love you. And not just in grades and scores either. Is my family’s total income of $70k annually meet the average standards of Carmel Valley? You have the iPhone 3? Wow, switch it already! I have the iPhone 4, which automatically puts me in a higher class of some sort, is that not right?
I think McDonald's workers would love to work at In-n-Out though
If the American Dream was a beef patty, it would be drenched in materialism which would be the sauce, dumped under a restrictive social class which would be the processed cheese, and the double standard which would be the two buns – there I just made you a McDonald’s Big Mac, how’s that for something 100% American?
What I’m getting is that the American Dream that originated from the Manifest Destiny, that is, if my recollection of my faint US History knowledge is correct, was much more romantic and easier to acquire than it is now. On a side note, whenever I hear Manifest Destiny, I always think of the incredibly corny scene at the end of Far and Away when Tom Cruise is racing through an open Oklahoma territory when he tragically falls off the horse and dies….for 5 minutes, only to be saved by the miracle of love (or his gift of short height since his head probably didn’t even reach the rock that mortally wounded him).
I think the only thing worse than that ending is Tom Cruise's Irish accent
To end on a lighter note, I would like to say that coming the United States, as awful as I may make it sound (I really just miss my friends and cheap, street food), is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Want a little irony? The sheer fact that I am able to write this and have these contemplations is due to the education I received at my school, which by the way was free.