In a previous post on American Dream Maker I said that instead of continuing to ignore the OWS demonstrators someone ought to listen to them. Today, it seems the President did listen when a group from the OWS movement interrupted a speech he was giving. Whether he truly heard what was said is yet to be seen. Still, he did respond to the protesters and in said response he stated, “there is a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American dream, which is if you work hard, if you stick to it that, you can make it, feels like that’s slipping away… And that’s not the way things are supposed to be. Not here. Not in America” (Washington Post).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about striving towards my own American Dream and ever since I read that quote, it’s been stuck on repeat in my head. Is the American Dream really slipping away? Am I being naïve in thinking persistence pays? No, that’s not the way America is supposed to be. That’s not what I was told growing up; I was told to reach for the sky, that even if I fell at least I’d fall among the stars. I was told I could be anyone, do anything I set my mind to – it wouldn’t be easy, but if I worked hard and kept my eye on the prize, then I could achieve limitless possibilities…
Up until now, this theory has worked for me. I got to where I am today because I stuck to my guns and never gave up. I kept on truckin’ until my dreams became my reality. And now, I have new dreams – new goals and aspirations. I set the bar high and regardless of how rough the road gets, I’m doing my best to keep going until I reach those goals. The only trouble is, now I’m being told to lower my expectations and by the same people who were telling me I could do anything. So does this mean that the American Dream is slipping away? Am I expecting more than I should? I don’t think so.
I, as I imagine most parents do, want more for my children than I had. This does not just apply to material things. I want them to be able to reach higher than I was able to, to go farther, do better, and see more than I did. I don’t ever want to have to tell them to lower their expectations. That is the essence of my American Dream. And you know what? I don’t believe that will ever fade away.
So, I will keep my bar high and I will keep aiming for the sky. I will keep dreaming and America should, too. Yes, it will be tough. Yes, we will have to keep getting knocked down and yes, we have to keep getting right back up. There will days when we feel like quitting and times when it seems impossible. But I refuse to let anyone take away my dreams, let alone the dreams of my children. For so long as long as families live in the United States of America, so long as we persist in our pursuit of happiness, so long as we work keep it alive, the American Dream will live on.