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Do you believe that the original American Dream of the last century will apply to the 21st century?
This article is inspired by something that gmwilliams posted, basically summarized by the statement, “The new paradigm is finding a job and/or career which one is PASSIONATE about!” I agree that this is the “new paradigm”, and a good goal to have, one needs to be practical or prepared for unemployment, which fewer and fewer people are as time goes on.
However, no matter how much one loves their career and their job, we're all "clock watchers" sometimes when there's something extra-special to go home to, like a new baby or a new wife, or when you’re coming down sick and can’t wait to get home to make chicken soup and crawl in bed.
Regarding job advancement: when you accept a job offer, assume you will never advance in your position at the company or get a bonus or a raise from that company. If you do, great! But don't consider it a given like previous generations did.
I think it's a big leap to say "when one has a job/career which they are passionate about, one does not live with constant regrets- shouldas, couldas, and would ifs." (gmwilliams)
Everyone, even the happiest most successful person, has these sometimes. I'm very lucky--I love my job, my coworkers and managers, and my career as a whole. I have very few regrets career-wise, and they are only tangential to the career part of things (which I do love), but related nonetheless.
I think parents and schools have raised several generations now of people with skewed “American Dreams” and totally unrealistic expectations: "All you need is love", "unconditional love", "ideal and idyllic jobs that we all love to go to every day", "awards for everything you don't do wrong ", “points for trying (no need to succeed)”, “You’ve got brains, that’s all that matters”, grades for just showing up, addiction to sports that add value to the individual but not the society...
They expect graduation (from high school or college) to bring them the perfect family, house, career, and life—on day one—with little or no work on their part. They think it should just all fall into place like life has so far. When the student becomes an employee, the real world really shocks and disappoints them.
We've become a culture that feels very much "entitled" to everything, and we want it right NOW, not 10 years from now. "I deserve it" is what I hear over and over, but that's often not the case: few people "deserve" anything other than what they work to earn and make of life itself.
The unemployed often don't take any responsibility for their situation whatsoever: "it's the economy". That's a strong argument, but maybe it’s also the sour, disappointed, demanding attitude that they displayed at their last job that put them on the list come layoff time at their last job.
In my opinion, it boils down to education: both book-learning and life-learning. If you do it right, you can raise a kid that is ready to become an adult when the time comes. They can think and make decisions independently. They’ve got real formal education that they earned (not a purchased degree or a “given” high school diploma because they bothered to show up).
That new adult will understand that saving money is very important in their youngest years, and that being kind to all beings and respectful to all things is paramount. They will have passed through the self-focused stages of youth into the wider consideration that adulthood brings, including the fact that sometimes you end up in a job or job situation that you hate but have to do it anyway for a time because that’s what’s needed to pay the bills and support the family.
A job and career and life that you LOVE all the time is, in my opinion, another one of those distorted American Dreams in which life is always perfect and wonderful like they see on TV. They EXPECT to be a "have", and not a "have not", when in fact they don't deserve it because they didn't work to earn it. In that case, they expect their parents to provide this perfect life for them.
I think the American Dream believers need to wake up and face the reality of today: we're not going to be as well-off as our parents were. The middle class will disappear quickly. Showing up isn't going to be enough to collect a paycheck for long; you're expected to earn it, like your parents did and their parents before them. Few people get a paycheck for watching or participating in sports, and few people see that sports time and money could, instead, be spent on teaching our children reading, writing, arithmetic, and computers (yes, computers--including keyboarding).
Ethics are also very important. Cheating on tests in school or lowering the curve so that everyone in class passes the test are, again, not adding value to the world. Only if shown the way, and perhaps booted down it, will kids understand the underlying American Dream. The American Dream is based on very hard work and good/ethical behavior and respect for all things (people, animals, objects) and for authority, such as laws and law enforcement personnel.
For further reading and other opinions...
- The American Dream--Am I Dreaming Wrong?
A few post-election day thoughts on the elusive American dream. How a pessimistic relative inspired me to think positively.
- The American Dream--Broken?
Is the American Dream of success, prosperity, rags to riches, broken beyond repair? Is the American Dream of equality, and a chance for everyone to realize their visions, a myth? Tell me what you think. I'd really like to know.
- The New American Dream
Recently a HubPage user asked the question “What is the American Dream?” This is not a question which is easy to answer. It will almost depend on who you ask. The answer will differ depending on a person’s background, how they were raised...
- Is Renting the new American Dream?
With foreclosures on the rise again, is renting the new American dream? When I first read this question, I didn't think it would be worthwhile of a lengthy response because I thought for sure the majority of people couldn't possibly think that...
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