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The New American Dream ... What will History Write?

Updated on December 23, 2013

The American Dream...Beyond Y2K...

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Is Justice Just a Dream?

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President Lincoln, enshrined in the Lincoln Memorial, forever looks out over the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument and the capitol. His sad eyes are that of a true American Dream unrealized. Is this the end of the American Dream?
President Lincoln, enshrined in the Lincoln Memorial, forever looks out over the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument and the capitol. His sad eyes are that of a true American Dream unrealized. Is this the end of the American Dream?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had a dream that is also unrealized, albeit we are making progress in some areas.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had a dream that is also unrealized, albeit we are making progress in some areas.
Writing about the decline and mis-use of the American Dream is not the same as DOING something about it.
Writing about the decline and mis-use of the American Dream is not the same as DOING something about it. | Source
The American Dream may burn out, if it hasn't already
The American Dream may burn out, if it hasn't already
This may be the American Dream in coming generations if we can't find a way to stop this downward spiral.
This may be the American Dream in coming generations if we can't find a way to stop this downward spiral.
When you look at all of the signs, it's not looking good for the American Dream.
When you look at all of the signs, it's not looking good for the American Dream.

Your Opinion

Do you believe that the original American Dream of the last century will apply to the 21st century?

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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.

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on ==>Laura Schneider's profile page. But wait--don't go there yet! Please continue scrolling down to leave ratings and any comments you have about this article so that it can be improved to best meet your needs. Thank you!


All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

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    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Very good points! Thanks for pointing them out! Cheers!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      4 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      What is important is to get into a growing industry and having the right job skills. If you are in a stagnant or consolidating industry it is very difficult to be successful. Go to a councilor and research what is up and coming. It is better to have a low position in a growing industry than to be laid off a high paying job in a declining industry.

    • junko profile image

      junko 

      5 years ago

      This is as true today as it was a year ago. Today the dream is less a reality and personal responsibilty is harder to realize but hope is still alive. Every able body should get ready for the economic surge that Must be created by American jobs No jobs, no dreams, no hope.

    • Joy Schantz profile image

      Joy Schantz 

      6 years ago from Surprise, Arizona

      I like your realistic perspective on the American Dream. Having ANY job is better than being unemployed. Everyone has to start somewhere, then climb the job ladder to better opportunities. To be totally independent, young people must be out on their own, pay their bills, and take responsibility for themselves.

    • Alejandro Rivas profile image

      Alejandro Rivas 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Very interesting, this article finally has described most co-workers I have had in retail. When I tried to chase my dream career in video and film production, the film school middle class kid felt that entitlement on sets and expected to get Above the line jobs after a mere one job and in some cases one year. When they didn't get it they would quit. Now, I have been on my own since High School, it's been tough. One guy I knew in high School is money successful but shoves it on every one's faces when ever he gets a chance. He reached his American dream but I don't want his dream. Facebook can be cruel sometimes when you peek into what some folks are doing. I don't recommend it. I am enjoying school finally, 20 years later.

    • ThomasBaker profile image

      ThomasBaker 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I find this Hub very interesting. My American Dream could have come true, but I took the wrong path and it didn't happen. Seeing the phrase "clock watchers" reminds me of a saying that was just below a clock in a classroom. It read "Time will pass. Will you?".

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