Wednesday, June 3, 2009

アメリカンドリームは何ですか?   What is the American Dream?

What is the American Dream? Stuff. Things. A big house. When I meet Americans in the US, these are the things they talk about. They show you their prize possessions. They take you on a tour of their house. They show their type of car.


When they take you on a tour of the town, you are shown the house of the richest man in town. Rarely do they talk about their job. Oh they talk about their job in terms of how much money they make, but rarely do you find Americans who speak of their job as something they truly wanted to do with their life.


When America was created, it was supposed to be different. In my mind, the original concept of America was conceived as both a place of refuge, and a place of opportunity. The idea of refuge, this is for those who faced discrimination in their home countries, or who because of war or some other problem faced difficulty, or perhaps even death.


The idea of a place of opportunity, well if in your country of birth, social restrictions prevented you from achieving anything beyond a set level of accomplishment, coming to America could change your life.

The theory was, there would be no limit set on you, the only restriction would be your own ability.


Of course, it was never quite that idealistic in practice. The reality of America is that there is much racial prejudice, and various ethnic groups have had to fight intense struggles to achieve a level of equality. Also, success is not guaranteed. Freedom to achieve what you wish, also means freedom to fail.


But in general, when people immigrate to America, the first generation remembers the troubles back in the country of origin, they are grateful for the chance that America offers. However by the second or third generation, people have little or no knowledge of the old country. They are full Americans. And basically, their dreams revolve around economic success, and the accumulation of material goods.


Somewhere around 1915, American industry became a great powerhouse. It was discovered that American factories could quickly produce all things that American people needed for life. However, unless people bought more products, the industries would collapse.


So with advertising, a sense of desire for material goods was introduced into American life. And we have ended up with a lot of goods that can only be classified as junk. A good example of this was portrayed in Eddie Murphy’s movie “Coming to America” There is the scene in the house of the girl’s father, before the party. The girl’s father boasts of all the things he has, including a toy train on the bar that serves drinks.


It is a ridiculous thing. Yet Americans buy many ridiculous things to fill their houses with. And they buy them on credit, going into debt to buy a lot of junk.


Is this the true American dream, to go into debt to surround yourself with junk? At this time in history, I think yes, it is. However, the American credit type of economy is collapsing. We are entering a new age, and the only true prediction I can say is that it will be very different. Perhaps someday, there will also be a very different kind of American Dream.


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