The American Dream: (the widespread aspiration of Americans to live better than their parents did)-wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
The widespread aspiration to live better than ones parents. The belief that every generation can live a better life than those which preceded it. The desire to give ones children a better life than that which was lived by the parents.
My grand parents were poor. Dirt poor.
On my mother’s side, my grandfather worked day labor on the rail road during the depression, and mowed lawns for those who were more affluent and could afford it. He died in 1936, leaving a wife and kids to make it without him. They followed the cotton crops from Missouri to West Texas, living in shacks owned by the Farm Owners, or in tents, picking cotton for day laborers’ pay. Breakfast was provided by the chickens that they kept. Coffee was served, if they could afford to buy it. Beans and corn bread made up the menu for “dinner and supper”, and meat was available only if one of my uncles could shoot a rabbit. Neither my mother, nor any of her brothers or sisters had the opportunity to finish high school.
On my dad’s side, my grandfather was a preacher. They sharecropped in Arkansas and Southern Missouri, and my grandfather pastored 2, 3, even 4 churches at a time, with services held in them once or twice a month. He was paid in potatoes, turnips, and chickens. They picked cotton, beans, or whatever they could get work picking. Neither my father, nor any of his brothers or sisters had the opportunity to finish high school.
This was the life for my dad and uncles until WWII, when every single one from both sides went into the military. They all fought except one, who had followed in his father’s footsteps and was a chaplain.
After the war, they came home and got jobs. None of them went back to farms. They lived in smaller cities in Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, and all of them worked in some type of manufacturing or sales position, with the exception of the preacher, who stayed in California pastoring churches until he died.
They are all gone now. Every one of them. But they all died owning homes, with families that they had managed to raise without hunger and without having to pick cotton or share crop. High School graduation was a given, and the only ones of my generation who did not graduate were those who chose not to. As far as I know, none ever went hungry. We had homes and creature comforts that our parents had never dreamed of when they were growing up. We had a better life than our parents.
My sisters and I all graduated high school. None of us went on to college after high school, though I and my oldest sister did later in life, both in our 40’s, when we had created the opportunity for ourselves. We have all married (some forever, others not) and all have jobs, homes, and have built lives for ourselves.
I have 3 sisters, and 8 nieces and nephews. Of my nieces and nephews, 3 have completed college, 2 went into the military, and 3 are in High School.
I have 3 kids. One is through college, one is in college, and one is still in high school, with college looming.
My sisters and I have provided homes, food, comfort, and security to our children, and the opportunity to progress directly into college if they so desire. They have never had to skip a meal, they have had their own rooms, their own phones, and many creature comforts that I could not have dreamed of at their age. They are living a better life than we did.
My parents lived the American Dream. I have lived the American Dream. My Kids are living the American Dream. I hope that their kids will have the opportunity to live it, too.
But many people do not understand what that dream is. That dream is to live a better life. That is all.
It is not to have more money, or as much money, as someone else. It is not to have the latest iPhone, or the newest computer. It is not to have the biggest car, house, or bank account. It is to live a better life. And, nobody is going to give that to them.
Nobody has a right to money. Money must be earned.
Nobody has the right to live in a home. Homes cost money – money must be earned – Therefore living in a home must be earned, and is not a right.
Nobody has the right to a car. Cars cost money – money must be earned – therefore a car must be earned, and is not a right.
Nobody has the right to internet access, iPhones, computers, X-boxes, Rolex’s, or any of the other goo-gaws that are shown on the HD plasma TV (that is also not a right) while watching cable (again, not a right). If you want these things, they must be paid for, therefore you must earn them.
I read almost daily that the American Dream is dead. Well, I disagree. I have lived it. My children are living it.
It is not dead.
It just must be earned. It must be paid for. It is not free.