The American Dream

John Lamb set the bar this morning over at Hispanic Nashville for defining what the American dream means to him, as well as offering some simple yet important advice that could help us all learn to listen and learn from each other.  He chose just one picture, so I am following suit:

(photo from Professor Falken)

When I was a kid, I remember marveling at the size of the Hoover Dam.   I got to visit the dam, and took a tour with my family.  I was horrified to learn how many men died during construction.  I was too young to shift the importance of that project to how many LIVED during that construction project, how many men found the American Dream while harnessing the power of the Colorado river.  They worked hard, sacrificed, and by doing so received a fair wage with which they could feed their families.  Some of these men were spared further humiliation of bread lines and shelters by a project paid for and benefiting the commons.  You, me, and our neighbors.  No one is born an American.  Being American is too important to be determined by an accident of birth.  Rather, the true American embraces the idea that all are welcome to participate in the pursuit of the American Dream, with the understanding that it is reached by our collective effort, and no man enjoys an elevated status over another.  It is that very pursuit that makes us American.

I have no poem to offer, just this:

I am grateful to be here, and thankful that you are with me.  

I understand that my future is dependent upon yours.

I will embrace our differences rather than fear them.

This experience is made more valuable by the fact that is a shared one.

John has details regarding the American Dream Breakfast over at his site.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The American Dream

  1. Interesting that we both used a photo of Americans at work.

    And thanks for your personal story about the impression Hoover Dam made on you; I need to inject more of my experiences into what I write, to make it less abstract.

  2. Great Photo, Mack. I’ve watched a few documentaries on the Hoover Dam and some other massive WPA/CCC projects. The guys who worked those jobs were from a whole different era AND mindset than most of the people entering the workforce these days–with the exception of the undocumented workers that are toiling, by the millions, in this country.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens if/when the economy tanks again and the middle class becomes 20-30% of what it is currently. Will today’s young and middle-aged workers have the ability and the desire to reach down and yank themselves up by their bootstraps?

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