Last Wednesday was the 4th of July and obviously there was a lot of talk about the American Dream. For some reason, the American Dream has become synonymous with owning a home. The American Dream has become all about selling Suburbia – the house, the kids, the car, the picket fence, the dog – the debt.
I’ve never understood this. I’ve always been a bit of a gypsy and the idea of putting down physical roots has always seemed strange to me. Owning a home ties you down. Most people believe owning property gives you security – but as we’ve learned in the recent financial crisis, owning a home is not as secure as we thought.
The American Dream was once simply the belief in the potential of man – the idea that we could all be free to pursue our desires unfettered by the opinions of others. Our Founding Fathers were philosophers – readers of Plato and other great minds – dreamers and believers.
It seems that much of this country no longer values that. We do not value our freedom to think – instead we value our freedom to have – to consume. Like sheep, we line up for 4th of July sales at stores hoping to score that discounted tv or computer. We don’t know why we need it – we just do. It’s on sale!
A lot of people get confused and think that ‘stuff’ really matters to me because I like fashion, tech & other shiny things. In the end, however, I don’t put much value on ‘things.’ Relationships matter. The thoughts that roll around your head matter. Intentions matter. Stuff comes and goes.
True joy and true freedom happen inside the heart, not inside the wallet.
We need to stop celebrating the American Dream through consumerism. That isn’t the dream that our forefathers died for and it isn’t the dream for which our soldiers sacrifice.
You cannot buy the American Dream. You can’t find it at Walmart and you don’t live it by mowing your lawn or eating barbecue and drinking beer.
You live it by thinking for yourself.
You live it by educating yourself about all sides of an issue. You live it by being grateful that you have the ability to seek out this information without fear for your life.
You acknowledge it when you see the myriad of religions that flourish in this land. You live it when stand up for the rights of others to hold their own beliefs – no matter how alien they may appear to you.
You live it by allowing yourself to shed your preconceived notions.
You live it by cherishing the truth that all of us are equal and capable of boundless greatness.