Modernizing the Dream

Abandoning the monolithic system of monarchy and forging the faultless democracy where all aspirations and inclinations, dreams and predilections, can be satisfied, America was established. On the ruins of thousands of lives and the irrevocable dismantling of civilizations, war shaped us, divided us, and united us. The rapid succession and colonization of our country, founded upon the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, evoked mass interregional migration. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — that is the American Dream. A dream, as of 1766, only achievable for white, property-owning males.

Social epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson said it best: “If you want to live out the American dream, go to Denmark.” Expostulating and revoking the age-old idea of traveling to America with nothing, tirelessly laboring to find a steady, well-paying job, and building a family in that two-story bungalow surrounded by a white picket fence; Wilkinson has a point. Homeownership rates are lower than they have been in half of a century. The average American keeps their job for four years. The median per-capita income in America, with regards to inflation, has remained stagnant for the past two decades. There are no white picket fences. There are no houses. There are no reliable, maintainable jobs. This is not the American Dream.

 Economic transcendence. No; consumption, capitulation, regression. The state of America was built in a race-based society of outdated customs and immorality. The average bottle of water costs $1.45. The average 40-pack of water costs $3.98, or $0.10 a bottle. As grocers sell items in bulk at discounted prices, it costs more, on average, for those in poverty to purchase daily necessities than their middle to upper-class counterparts. You cannot take out a loan without proper credit. You can not achieve proper credit without a proper loan. You cannot be hired for a job without a resume. You cannot build your resume without jobs. Though the treacheries of our past have been abolished, marginalization has shifted towards that of an eternal economic revitalization of Sisyphus — a never-ending, uncompromising, forlorn cycle of work with no reward. This Dream has transformed from a vision of familial growth to that of social and economic provocation, extreme inequality, and lack of social mobility.

Each day, we are surrounded by those that silently struggle. Without apprehension or hesitation, we complain. Four students at my school are homeless, yet the rest of us are vexed at the thought of looking for a parking spot in the morning. Three out of every ten students in my school district do not have Internet at their house, yet I complain when my personal laptop buffers. The savoir-faire of society is melting. The sympathy and solicitude of our generation are plummeting. The American Dream is opportunity. The opportunity to find a job, to make money, to establish credit, and to start life. This Dream is in our hands — the hands of the future. The founding fathers fought for our right to self-government. Teachers fight for our right to education. Rosa Parks fought for equality and Martin Luther King fought for civil rights. It is up to us, the generation of the present, to fight for our future, for the decrease of economic disparities, for the increase of ethical morality, and for the patience, compassion, and support of our peers. For equal opportunity to all.  Whether that be decreasing job standards, increasing access to education, or providing communital professional development workshops, our country needs a change: a shift from the traditional customs of 1766 to an inclusive society of 2020.

To embody an ideal so broad, so seemingly paradoxical and simultaneously unparalleled, is up to us. The Dream is not American if it is only found in Denmark. For the betterment of our country, our children, and our future, we must, as a society, give a conscious effort to provide ample, equal opportunity to all. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, it is in our hands to uphold and modernize the Jeffersonian opportunities upon which our lives were built —life, liberty, and, above all else, the pursuit of happiness.