The American Dream: Revised
A Man's Choice
Life isn’t always as it seems. Today, the path to life’s success for men is portrayed as almost a birthright. It's a magic carpet ride, obtainable through a heavenly combination of education, timely connections, quick decisions, hard work, and of course, all the latest consumer electronic gadgets, gizmos, material possessions and other superfluous “joy de vivre.” All this is billed to represent masculinity, efficiency, effectiveness, inclusion, status, discernment…and, of course, HAPPINESS!
For many men however, life has become less of an idyllic adventure and more of a series of endlessly winding roads, seemingly insurmountable life circumstances caused by unrealistic expectations, over commitment, greed, confusion and sometimes just plain deceit. This life practice of unconscious conditioning leads to disappointment, discouragement and despair.
Thank goodness not everyone experiences this distress but, there are an adequate number of disillusioned men in our schools, in our corporations, in our court systems and jails to call for a moratorium on buying and selling this lifestyle. The amount of dissatisfied, unproductive, unfulfilled and burnt out men is growing and large enough to fill every sports stadium in this country. There are even more located on our streets and in our hospitals and homes, substantial enough to warrant a different viewpoint on growth and success, and dare I say it, “The American Dream.” There is a price for our folly! The question is who will pay, and when?
Every one of us enters this world with a clean slate. A significant number of men are then conditioned and trained at a very young age to develop and foster a set of culturally accepted expectations about life’s success that initially sound and feel good but eventually demoralize the vast majority of its proponents. In short, we’re practically set up to fail from the beginning.
I know you know men like this. If not, take a close look into your husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers or maybe even into your sons eyes and tell me most of them aren’t looking a little stressed. And, if they’re not, I suggest you fall down on your knees in an attitude of gratitude because you and they are in fact very, very fortunate indeed!
As a young man I was cajoled to accept winning without knowing what winning meant. I learned the habit of winning by regular reinforcement from my dad, brothers, coaches, mentors and other well meaning men in my life, often to the exclusion of consequence, be it short or long term, because winning felt good. I was taught the value of competition literally without knowing what I was competing for and only recently have I learned that collaboration is often a more productive and rewarding alternative for success and doesn’t have near as much of a down side to the ego as competition.
Seriously, I’m not the quickest of students but I got it honest, honest! This type of conditioning of the ego is being passed from American generation to American generation with little signs of slowing. This reproductive malady matures into a spirit teaching men to pursue excellence, but only if the cost/benefit analysis produces immediate positive cash flow. Success is more than beating up the other team or winning at all cost. There is a different way!
The American Dream is quickly traveling elsewhere and many men are asking themselves what the future holds for them and their families. (This also happens quite frequently after years and years of hard work, lost financial and emotional investment and deception at the hands of some our most trusted associates)
No matter what time it is, isn’t it time we look inwardly and ask ourselves if what we are producing individually and collectively in the short term is worth the price we are paying in the long term. Isn’t now an appropriate time for men to begin the process of self examination which leads to a life of honor, consciousness, and selfless living? (Is now ever a bad time to start anything?)
I believe it’s time for men to pioneer a new sales campaign, shifting to an innovative sense of direction. We can design a new type of male role model by making fresh, honest and nonconforming decisions about who we really are and what’s important to us and to our world. We can change our thinking, our feelings and subsequently our behavior by putting principle before greed.
We can change our collective minds because we can choose to change our individual minds. If men can see themselves in a slightly different light and aim for a set of results that are not based on the almighty ego, we can achieve a shift that will change our country, if not the world. We can choose peace over war, humility over pride, charity over gluttony, love over fear and investment in people over selfish ambition and corporate covetousness. We can choose to see a world of imagination, collaboration, cooperation and kindness and we can choose to begin with ourselves, today, right now, and we can start with seven simple choices that lead to” A New American Dream! ” The question is…will we?
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