Saturday, January 21, 2012

THE AMERICAN DREAM

An economics Professor at Valencia College in Orlando starts his sophomore class by asking the students to write a ten minute essay describing the American Dream and what the federal government should do about it.

A wide majority of the students concluded that the American Dream consists of having a job, a house, a car, and a secure retirement.

It’s the duty of the federal government, according to these nineteen and twenty year old experts, to provide all of these things. And, of course, free college tuition.

These are kids whose parents, maybe grandparents, were enthralled by John Lennon’s 1971 release “Imagine.” Do you remember the lyrics?

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Not exactly passé` that ditty. Over 275,000 people have visited its web site since November, 2011.

Ah, the contradictions of utopia. There are no possessions, but everyone has a house, a car, and a retirement fund.

And world peace, just like the beauty queens pray for. No hunger, no greed. No killing and dying. No reward for virtue, no punishment for sin.

Indeed, no need for thinking. In Lennon’s perfect world, there’s no worry, no sorrow, nor pain nor grief. Of course, he also offered no victory, no joy, no happiness to be pursued.

And so the words of a drug addled musical genius have left their mark on our culture.

Eleven months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed an international goal of assuring Four World Wide Freedoms. The first two were familiar to Americans; freedom of speech and freedom to worship God in our own way.

The third and fourth were new. Freedom from want would be achieved by international economic agreements, such that each nation could provide a healthy life for its own people.

Freedom from fear was to be accomplished by international disarmament, such that no nation would have the capacity to attack another.

Unhappily, FDR’s four freedoms have been truncated over the last seventy years. The ideas that government has the duty to provide freedom from want and freedom from fear have become hallmarks of domestic policy in the minds of many Americans.

Roosevelt’s dreams were short lived. Before the year was out, he was summoning the nation to mobilize and to sacrifice.

History has shown that peace is more likely achieved by a balance of terror among nations capable of pulverizing one another than by mutual disarmament.

This planet is a hard place to live on. Nature has its Tsunamis, and people have their faults.

The sophmores will learn that there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done.

No comments:

Post a Comment