That topic, the American Dream, has been troubling me for quite a long time; it is referred to so often as a principal quality of Americans in general. I wish some clever scholar would count up the number of times it is used in media, discussing the economy in negative terms.
“When I came here it was to achieve the American dream.”
“Americans believe it is a right for them to pursue the American dream.”
As an American goal, it seems to have replaced the guarantees of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. And what is this American dream for all those ragged souls who come here heavy laden with old cares? It is a house. A house? Really? It begins to seem that there must be a reason for a dream like that. After all if we were willing to mortgage ourselves to our eyebrows in order to get one, it must be important. Of course, once we get our house, defined as a starter house, we need to start thinking about getting a better one. Like the Fisherman’s Wife, our housing needs become more and more complex, They begin to need more and more space. At last a million dollar house becomes not such a big deal. All this dreaming has been very good for the economy. In order to get the new house we need to work much harder. There isn’t much time after shopping for the new appliances to read a book or go to a concert, or even sit around on a Saturday afternoon with old friends drinking a comradely beer.
I don’t care much for this topic as a dream. And don’t forget that if you are a serious minority the dream becomes a low-income nightmare. Of course this dream leads to all sorts of excess. We have to use more resources and more space, burn more fossil fuels and destroy more mountain tops and shaly deposits where the water was pure and the crops grew for our food.
We are supposed to dream this house dream for the sake of the economy. I don’t think much of this dream. There has to be more to it than that. If you agree with me just honk your horn. Maybe we can create a new dream that celebrates the finest qualities of the human being. And in that direction, without trying very hard, the house will quietly come along with it.