Sunday, October 30, 2011

The American Dream: Then and Now.

Writing in 1782, De Crevecoeur explains what an American is and what he represents for his country. America was fairly new in terms of settlement and because of such, it gave hope of a clean slate full of promises. De Crevecoeur tries to identify what this new-ness means for those who now live in America.
The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions.
Letters from an American Farmer, De Crevecoeur, p. 44
The repetition of the word "new" is interesting here because it seems to suggest that what happened in the past is now irrelevant. It also seems to mean that America is seen as an escape from whatever life they might have had had they not moved to America. Because of this, America becomes a country where one can escape to a different destiny.

However, is that still true for todays Americans? Recently the press has been inundated with accounts of the Occupy Movement. Thousands of protesters have Occupied Wall Street, Oakland and Boston to show their disappointment in their country's failure to deliver to them what they had been promised written in the first amendment.
Young people are out in the streets of America again, not simply looking for work, although they are seeking meaningful employment. They are looking for an America that their dreams can inhabit, searching for a future that might help to sustain nature as well as heal a wounded, despairing culture. Like all those who have dreamed of America before, they are seeking the land of hidden promise more than the promise of simply owning the land.
Looking for the Dream of America, The Huffington Post, Michael Meade, D.H.I
Interestingly, it appears that the Occupy Movement is occurring because of the rise in unemployment, and not because of a class divide. It is the 99% of Americans who feel that they increasingly suffer while the other 1% lives in luxury. Some might call this the curse of the middle classes, but this protest goes far beyond class warfare.
America has always been a dream needing to be renewed and re-imagined by each generation. Each stream of immigrants rode a wave of dreams seeking a fertile ground to take root in... Occupy means "to keep and hold, to fill, to employ." It is high time to occupy America again; not the America of partisan politics and corporate influence; but the America that can hold and keep alive the dreams of its young people, the America that can employ people in meaningful work and draw upon the well of ideals again.
Looking for the Dream of America, The Huffington Post, Michael Meade, D.H.I
There is a feeling that what America truly means has been lost amongst consumerism and politics, wars and poverty, and it appears as if the country has lost it's shine. Granted, many still dream of moving to America in search of a new beginning, but how can America do them justice when it can't even look after its own citizens? Being born an American used to be considered as an advantage in life, but the unrest felt by the majority of the American population today suggests that the country cannot live up to the expectations that the once new land offered their ancestors.

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