President Barack Obama wrote a book about the dreams from his father.
Those dreams differ greatly from the dreams from my father. But the right to hold and express contrasting beliefs is an integral part of the American Dream. Americans declared long ago that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle us to the right to express our beliefs freely.
The dreams from my father were passed on to me via many channels. Song selection was one method, although I am certain it was not intentional. I think the songs my dad played after a hard day at work were those that made him feel good. Frank Sinatra could often be heard declaring “I Did it My Way” from our living room stereo, while my father listened with closed eyes from the couch.
The lyrics of that song came to mind a few years ago when my daughter graduated college. She had been job hunting all summer like so many others. Advice was coming at her from all directions. That song’s message of personal responsibility going hand in hand with personal choice popped into my head as I tried to give some helpful advice to my daughter on how to deal with so much good intentioned advice from others.
Our president saw the worth of putting forth the dreams from his father. We too must pass on to the next generation the dreams from our fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, some who were born Americans, many who were not. The vast majority of people who came to America dreamed of living in a nation where individuals could pursue their happiness in a land of liberty. That was the American Dream, and still is to many, but I am fearful that we are witnessing a redefinition of the American Dream.
The new definition of the American Dream is rooted in envy, not freedom. The new definition has a collective nature, rather than one of individuality. Before the new American Dream replaces the original, Americans and those who wish to become Americans, must speak out about the American Dream that is individual freedom and a chance to pursue goals of one’s own choosing.
Too many messages directed at Americans today are of victimization and unfairness. Too many politicians want us to turn to government for solutions, instead of looking to ourselves. We are being led to believe that the American Dream is a guarantee of some sort from the government, not a chance to freely pursue our goals. With that chance of success comes a chance of failure. But failure is not an end result, it is only a misstep. In America we are free to get up and try again.
The dreams from my father, mother and grandparents were dreams of equal opportunity, not of government guarantees. This is just common sense. How could any government guarantee all its people equality of outcome?
A few years ago a short story my daughter was reading for English class led to our discussing living under the control of a government that tried to bring about equal outcome for all its citizens. “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., explores the notion of a nation that has tried to guarantee outcomes. It is a world most of us would not want to live in. In the world portrayed in Vonnegut’s story, no one is allowed to excel. Everyone must be equal. So if there is a gifted ballerina, she must be weighted down so she is not seen as a better dancer than anyone else. People are hindered from thinking their own thoughts because earphones flood their brains with static.
My interest piqued; I wanted to know more about the author’s political views. I was surprised to learn Mr. Vonnegut had socialist leanings. I suppose even socialists understand government guaranteed equal outcomes can lead to less than desirable outcomes. Maybe there is hope that big government supporters can be convinced that there are real dangers of an overreaching government.
I believe most American’s dreams from their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers are more in tune with “I Did it My Way” than with the mode of Harrison Bergeron’s world which was, “We must do it their Way”. The dreams from our founding fathers were of a nation as far from tyrannical rule as was possible without falling into anarchy. We must wake up and recount the American Dream of maximum personal responsibility being necessary to uphold maximum freedom and pass it on to the next generation before that dream is lost in our slumber.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer who lives on Long Island. She is a regular contributor to Association for Mature American Citizens. Diana recently published a book, "Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World".
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