A Family gathers for their traditional Saturday night dinner: Grandparents, Parents, Teen and Child. Joining them, seated across from one another, are The Congressional Money Managers. The aroma of food and an underlying dread drift throughout the house.

Dinner goes well for the first half hour until the Father asks: “What will I do now that I’ve lost my job? I thought the education I earned, my work ethic and paying taxes qualified me to always be the breadwinner of my family?

“And, me?” The Mother asks. “Where will I find income that equals that of my husband? I fought for women’s rights and now, with the stroke of a pen, a woman who reached that proverbial Glass Ceiling took away my right to privacy if I want or must work. I thought it was implicit that when a woman/minority broke through the Glass Ceiling it was for a clearer vantage point to witness the plight of us all!”

“I can forgo college and get a job,” the Teen offers. The dream of his future now separated from what his reality had been. “I’ll try to work close to home, gas prices and all.”

The Child, in order to help, made a school lunch each day. “Mother, the man at school took my lunch and threw it away? Did he know I made it? He said you owe the school lunch money.”

“I think I’ve seen this before!” Grandfather adds…” Dreams of a better future guaranteed to the people. I just thought it would never be…”

Grandmother interrupts: “My family, you come and live with us since your house is in foreclosure. It is only way I know to help.” Then Grandmother turns her attention to The Money Managers and says: “I’m afraid of the healthcare laws since I don’t know what they are. Will I lose the doctor’s I trust? Will Medicare and Social Security fail and if so, when? I must plan!”

The Money Managers answer each question asked: in contradictory ways. Then say: “Be patient, we’ll take care of you.”

“We can’t afford your kind of patience!” the Grandfather, now angry, yells at them.

The Money Managers point their finger at one another for the plight of A Family. Angry, they push back from the table, stand and exit. One drives away to the left and the other to the right. In guardedness, A Family remains seated at the dinner table: hungry for the American Dream!


The American Dream

Is it still possible to achieve that elusive American Dream?
Article first published as The American Dream on Technorati

James Truslow Adams coined the term American Dream in his 1931 book: The Epic of America. “…That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. …It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are…”

Ah… The American Dream!  It’s been around quite a while; certainly earlier than Adams’ 1931 interpretation. It arrived on our shores in the hearts and minds of millions of immigrants looking for those elusive streets of gold.

These days we hear the American Dream tossed about by: we who pursue instant wealth in lieu of thrift and hard work; we who no longer believe in its premise; we who exploit it; terrorism that begrudge us its assurance; educational systems that debate or debunk it; immigration policies that don’t address it; politicians who guarantee it; religions that give no voice to it, and those quiet fears spoken in America’s neighborhoods that warn “…it is dying.”

At the core of the American Dream are its immigrants, our forefathers and mothers who wanted to escape religious, racial and political persecution, or seek relief from a lack of economic opportunity or famine. In the beginning contract labor agreements offered by recruiting agents drew immigrants to fill a need for workers in coal mines, steel plants and all trades: America’s Melting Pot. I grew up in a large family of English and Italian immigrants, all coal miners. My grandparents informed me; more than once, “…We work hard to make a better life. This is our legacy to you.” Each of us shares in this generational legacy begun by hardworking immigrants who for centuries  carved out their place in the American Dream.

Maybe, instead of our political system of two opposite elements that like tungsten when it reaches its highest melting point, no one dares to touch it. Not unlike politics really, rhetoric and promises heat up but consensus is never reached… And another election cycle begins. Ah, if only there were something called the American Dream, you know the one: the one that comes down on the side of the people.

Or, perhaps like our other dreams, upon waking we no longer hear the voices of our immigrant ancestors who ask: “What happened?”