2012

The American Dream?

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2012 at 9:03 am

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Bad days!  We all have them, and to some degree, we all let them affect us in one way or another.  It may be cliché to say “when it rains, it pours,” but it doesn’t make it any less true.  And while the problems of today usually have a way of working themselves out, logic rarely prevails in the heat of the moment.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Disappointment, frustration and anger over a few situations was exacerbated by the sweltering heat which drained what little patience I still had left in the tank.  And though I had some time to decompress before my wife and kids came home from their day at summer camp, I know that I still wasn’t myself when they walked in the door.

Thankfully, the weekend is here, so it gives me the chance to spend time with them in a meaningful way before getting back to the grind again.

Mondays always seem to come around way too fast these days, even for those who don’t look at weekdays as a countdown to the weekend.  That’s life in America today for many people.

The stock market may have recovered from its devastating crash, but very few would consider our economy to be good.  High gas prices have cut into everyone’s budget, and the unemployment problem does not seem to be getting any better.  Those who are employed are working harder than ever for less money.  This “new normal” makes you wonder…

What ever happened to The American Dream?

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to watch Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series, The Newsroom, at the end of a challenging day.  Quite frankly, the show is brilliant, but the first episode also provided a harsh dose of reality about America.

It may seem like treason to question whether America is still the best country in the world, especially with the Fourth of July right around the corner, but Sorkin brought up some very valid points in a scene that set the tone for the entire series.

When pressed by a moderator to give an answer to the question posed by a college student- “What makes America the greatest country in the world?” – Jeff Bridges’ character launched into the following diatribe…

“It’s not the greatest country in the world professor…that’s my answer!  There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we are the greatest country in the world.

We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, #4 in labor force and #4 in exports. 

We lead the world in only 3 categories:  number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined…25 of whom are allies. 

It sure used to be (the greatest country in the world). 

We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons.  We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons.  We waged wars on poverty, not poor people.  We sacrificed.  We cared about our neighbors.  We put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. 

We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. 

We reached for the stars…acted like men.  We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it.  It didn’t make us feel inferior.  We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy.   

We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered.  

The first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one. 

America is not the greatest country in the world anymore!”

This impactful scene really hit home with me because it is true in so many ways.  I won’t be packing up my family and leaving America anytime soon.  The truth is, I didn’t even handle moving out of the state very well because being a New Yorker is part of who I am.  But I do wonder if my kids will ever get to experience the America that existed not too long ago.

Before the rant about America, Bridges’ character called out both the Republican and Democratic panelists for their extreme views.  As someone who is disenchanted with all politicians, I appreciate Sorkin’s message.

This week, we will celebrate our freedom as the United States of America, even though we are anything but “united.”  We are a divided nation, growing further apart by the day.  It is always brought to light more during election years, but it is worse than ever nowadays because of the 24/7 news cycle and the social media platforms that are available to everyone.

Today is another day.  America’s problems are not going away anytime soon, but yesterday’s bad day will work itself out at some point.  This weekend is all about spending time with my family, relaxing by the lake and letting go of the things that are beyond my control.

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  1. […] thinks that it could happen to them…until it does…and then they understand just how quickly the “American Dream” can turn into the “American nightmare.”  In what has to be one of the most depressing […]

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