Breaking down the “American dream”

Go ‘merica!!Since I’m all about honesty, I have had to admit to you, the students, that I am a bit of an American pessimist. It’s not that I don’t want America to be all we think of it as, it’s just that, realistically speaking, the “American dream” is, well, a dream.

But that doesn’t mean that everyone should be so pessimistic, or even realistic. I heartily encourage everyone who has the stomach for it to become a wild optimist, and there’s no better time than high school for wild optimism. I hope that my sad, crotchety, old-person pessimism will serve only as a foil to expose the benefits of a rosier outlook rather than overtake the class as the prevailing attitude.

Plus, I have a secret. I’m going to type it here on my blog where I can be absolutely sure no person will ever read it:

Deep down inside, under all the disappointment and spoiled dreams, I am actually a wild optimist who thinks that the real-est reality is our dreams. You know–“row row row your boat,” and all that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that all of this–you know, the world, people, life–is all in my head. It’s a liberating attitude, really. You should try it sometime…if my imagination let’s you, that is.

Aaaaanyway, we had class. We did some free-associatin’ with the words “American” and “dream.” Here are some basic ideas we came up with:

America: a territory, or country, with borders, a government, shared laws, physical space, unique identity, culture (traditions, rituals, values, understanding, myths, etc.)

dream: fantasy, subconscious, not real or possibly more real than reality (see above), reveals truth, reveals the future, distraction, narrative (story with beginning/middle/end that can be read for some sort of meaning), sleep, goal, desire, hidden

So you can see how many serious and profound topics are locked up inside these two innocent widdle words, and we spent some time talking about each idea. By the way, this is the kind of stuff that is perfect fodder for your response papers since I know there were people in class with ideas they didn’t share, and there’s no way we can give each idea the time it needs to be sorted out properly.

After that, I asked the class to come up with a couple of examples of people living the “American dream.” These examples ranged from Oprah to one of the students herself, which is an interesting contrast since Oprah is a billionaire media impresario (a?), and my student happens to be an average (socioeconomically average, that is–far above average in intelligence and creativity, of course) middle class suburbanite. How can they both be livin’ the dream? We discussed.

Finally, we read some stuff about the “American dream” which you can come get from me if you missed class or need another copy to help you craft your first response paper, due a week from this coming Monday.

That is all. I’ve got to get back to living my own dream now, which does not happen to involve blogging.

MT

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2 responses to “Breaking down the “American dream”

  1. As it was my pleasure to attend 4th period’s discussion on the American Dream, I’ll start with an audacious claim. The American Dream is like a game of Risk. At first we start out humbly, everyone with 11 or 12 countries. We think, “If I can just win one new country this turn, I’ll be able to draw a card.” So we put everything on Argentina and take over Chile. But our competitors are gaining ground, too. So next turn we say, “If I have all of South America, I’ll get two extra armies next turn.” So we take out Brazil, and then go for Venezuela. We win, and fortify Venezuela and Brazil, securing our borders. “Now, this is enough, we can be self sufficient, we could last the whole game like this,” we say. Problem is, the Green Armies over in Africa have taken over the entire continent, and with the three extra armies that brings, they’ll have no problem taking Europe after that. Luckily, they’ve only left 3 armies on North Africa. So next turn, you put everything you’ve got on Brazil and you plow through across the Atlantic, even though Africa belongs to your best friend, the touchy one who hates losing and holds grudges. You win, and as fate has it, your friend will never regain Africa, will never collect any extra armies, and will be completely wiped out, by you, after three more turns, so you can take over his cards and get 20 extra armies that turn. And as you turn your eye onto Australia, and then North America, and then those few remaining outposts in central Asia, you realize that this is the American dream–to get a job at WalMart and work your way up into management and help facilitate the merger with MacDonalds and General Electric and Exxon, and slowly creep across the globe, driving out all other competitors until the time when if anyone in the world wants to buy ANYTHING, they will have to drive to the Great and Spacious parking lot and take a shuttle into the Great and Spacious Building and buy it from WalMart, because WalMart is the ONLY COMPANY IN THE WORLD!

  2. very true brandon, very true.

    and you know who else is living the american dream..?
    will ferrel or ” Chaz” from wedding crashers, i mean he did say he was living the dream before he politely asked his mom for the meat loaf.

    no but really, I think the american dream is being able to have freedom of stuff, such as religion and all that.
    the pilgrims had a dream and it came true when they came here and settled, even if that ment taking the dreams and hopes from a whole freaken continent… Africa. But its all right, right? I mean if we’re going to succeed in something we have to take down alot of people in order to do so right? for example: I speak spanish and english, I aplied at a company that has only one opening, me and another guy apply and interview at the same time, and in the end we sit right next to eachother in the hall bench waiting for them to tell us who got it or not. In the end it all comes down to one question…Do you speak a different language? I say yea he says no. guess who got the job…me baby! but I mean the guy was a senior in high school and almost a straight A student. In the end I still brought him down and crushed him like a little bug! nah just kidding kinda…
    thank you everybody.

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