The American Dream

Ahhh, the American Dream! It’s one of the reasons this country is so loved of its patriots. Where else in the world can you go from rags to riches via the sweat of your labors? Here the ingenuity of your own creativity can carry you into all that you want, need, crave or desire. At least that’s what we’re conditioned to believe.

It’s always been my opinion that the American dream is really a self-contained nightmare. It is self-contained in the walls of our own ingratitude and lust. Despite this, it’s the carrot we dangle in front of ourselves to keep going forward each day. Even worse, it’s the carrot self-serving politicians dangle in front of us to keep us going for them. If you need a society to keep its momentum of production going, the people need hope. The American dream is such a hope (albeit a false one).american dream

I was pleasantly surprised to see Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz call the American dream an American fairytale. While it appears from the news article that he once believed it a rational possibility, now he considers it implausible:

The American dream has become a myth,” Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, told the German news magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday. “The belief in the American dream is not supported by the data.”

I think its important when such public figures step out to crush false hope. That takes integrity. It’s not about bashing America or her ‘dream’ but rather it’s about tempering false optimisims with reality. People do not need false hopes and this brings me to my main point: People need actual hope.
Let’s pretend for a brief moment that the American dream is a realistic, obtainable goal and that the sweat of your labours can take you from rags to riches. So what? Do riches bring contentment with them? Of course not. Herein lies the problem. Man’s sinful nature is to never be satisfied and we so easily forget who gives satisfaction:

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. (Pro 27:20)

This being the case, how much damage we do by propogating this culture of wanton excess! Our children, surrounded by televisions, x-boxes and cell phones are suffering the greatest educational decline of all time. Teachers no longer grade in red pens because it might hurt their ‘self-esteem’. Our pamperings have rewarded us accordingly and this country is too blind to see it.

The Amerian dream is nothing more than a multi level marketing scheme. It’s a pyramid of one false salesman selling his own amibtions to profit off of the lust of another. This is how America operates. If you don’t believe me then just do a little research on the Fed and consumer spending. Now, that’s not to say that I’m “anti-American” per se; I’m just of the mindset that peoples and nations need a greater hope than material gain. I’m grateful for the general economic satisfaction that I possess but I’m also mindful of who provides it.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1Ti 6:6)

There’s nothing wrong with working hard and being rewarded for your labor. Certainly, to be rich is not a sin in and of itself. None the less, if riches are your amibtion, you’ve engaged yourself on a very foolish path.

Perhaps the observances of Joseph Stiglitz will help a few people by encouraging them to reasses their lives and what they’re living for. Perhaps not. Either way, society will need a greater hope than the false satisfaction of “rags to riches”. America will need a better dream and there’s only one place to get it: the God that allowed it to begin with. Therein lies a hope that actually delivers.

3 Responses to The American Dream

  1. bruce j kokko

    October 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Nice post, Jon. The crux of the issue is fear. Humanity believes in its heart of hearts it can be its own god; yet, ironically, it’s painfully aware of its fallibility. So in this state of fear, it surrounds itself with wealth and power (actually, probably the same thing) in order to insulate itself from its own fallibility. This root of fear based hubris engenders all the rest of our vices. We find the solution in trust. To what or whom do we place our trust? This is the answer Jesus gives the rich man, Jesus’ disciples, and us: “Let go, and follow Me.”

  2. Jon Kokko

    October 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    You comment makes me think of the following verse from a different angle:

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1Jn 4:18)

    Without love there’s fear and the opposite of love is lust. The medicine (materials) we use to cure ourselves becomes the poison that kills.

  3. bruce j kokko

    October 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Exactly. And of course, lust is really hate.

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