The other day my wife and I were helping our oldest daughter home after giving birth to another grandchild. Bags and baby in tow, we slipped into a cab and headed home towards the Bronx. The driver politely ask if the air conditioning was okay. I answered “yes” then he asked about the music…again I replied “yes”. I then started asking questions, which I normally do. Since I know Uber is a hot topic and because I’m naturally curious, I asked about the difference and if he considered driving for them.
He’d been driving for 6 years and was somewhat happy with it. He has friends who drive under Uber’s umbrella… The big thing though, was just being happy living in America!
As we continued to talk I as asked what country was he original from. Yes, I do that a lot. I am always curious as to how people view “my” country, it’s one thing to read about it in a paper or have some activist parade about or a non-profit organization tell you. It’s quite another thing to just sit and talk to people and find out for yourself.
Well, he’s from Nepal…a farming family. He’s lived in the States for 9 years and driving for 6 of those years. Don’t let someone tell you that we are not an exceptional country, because we are and everyone coming here knows it. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is how costly things are. We offer great opportunities to ALL Americans, sadly, natural born citizen don’t often take advantage of that fact. Far too many want free handouts and easy answers to success or The American Dream… You know, that Pink Unicorn. However, fresh face, hard working immigrants/migrants are quick to grab the opportunity. Because their American Dream is to come to this country and find a job, save a little money, help their families and own a home if possible. The biggest emphasis on getting a job.
I’ll get back to the driver in a moment. For now, let’s think about the pink unicorn. The early settlers came in search of the New world dream. They wanted to be free to live, own property, have a family, create business and wealth for themselves. They didn’t want to be taxed to death! But wish to enjoy the fruit of their Labour… They were fleeing a corrupt church controlled by a corrupt government and a corrupt government controlled by a corrupt church. The Monarch had many working hard but few had riches, because it was given to the governing bodies. So they ended up poor and in poor health. Heck, I’d run too!
Freedom and liberty. That was and is, the American Dream. The freedom and ability to work for yourself or someone else and earn a profit from it to live off of. To buy what you need, with a little extra for special occasions and events.
It’s still the reason why people flock to our country. But many are disillusioned when they get here. You see, their image of America is skewed by celebrities and TV news, that all westerners are well off! But you and I know the truth. That’s just a small segment of our population. Most of us, work darn hard with little but debt to show for it. This is where the pink unicorn comes in. We, believe the Hype ourselves and drive the debt through the roof! We fawn over celebrities, We seek the latest of everything, even if we can’t afford it, believing we’re entitled to it. Not that we have to earn it and this dear reader, is the wrong message to send to the world. But, whatever, right..?
Back to my cab driver…
He was from a from a small village in the country, of Nepal. His parents were farmers. With a visa he found a job and started to learn English. His boss sponsored him…he met a woman, the bosses daughter, and romance sparked. About a year later they married. Boom. Instant citizen! They moved from the Midwest to NYC…she’s a nurse and he’s a cabbie. He went back to Nepal recently, though not to frequently, because of the cost to travel.
In Nepal he’s somewhat of a celebrity. Where as before he was treated as a nobody. But because he lives in America he is now a “big shot”. The U.S. dollar is nearly triple the value it is here, so, with a few thousand dollars saved, he bought his parents a home in the capital city. He’s retired them too. He said, $3,000 would keep them for about 3 years… Going for a visit meant, very nearly going broke too. As friends and family expect a gift from the “rich American”. Can you see the pink unicorn theory at work here?
His response to me was pretty much like “What can I do, it’s what they expect..”
Expectations: are ours as great as Dickens novel? Do we expect and now feel entitled to something great or even greater than we can afford? If so, how does this affect the rest of the world?…dare I say, you already know the answer?
The early settlers just wanted a chance to survive. As time moved on, others came seeking the fortune the new world had to offer the venture capitalist… Businessman. Staking their claims in fur trade, farming and even the slave trade. Nevertheless it was about the freedom and liberty, to be.
Today, new immigrants coming here, whether legal or illegal are seeking the same basic freedoms. Let’s be honest, if things were so great back in the old country why bother coming to American. Growing up, in my teens years, many of my friends were from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Some here legally, some illegally, some involved in criminal activities, some were good citizens. But without fail, from to time someone would complain about the U.S. “in Kingston…” This. “On the island…” That. Of course I thought..well go back!! Wouldn’t you?! But they wouldn’t do that because they know what they were running from. Irregardless of America’s warts and problems it still offers greater opportunities and liberties. Again, today’s newcomers come saddled with the the western television version of the American Dream. The Pink Unicorn.
Some are reporting that the dream is dead. No, it’s been replaced with the mythical unicorn… One way it’s been done is with the near cult like worship of celebrities. Everything they have, young and old alike want. We’ve allowed them to dictate fashion, beauty, faith and fitness to us. When they work for us. If you don’t see their movies they don’t get paid. When they fall out of the limelight…they panic then reinvent themselves. Ugly cycle,right?
Companies tell us what we need…no! Must have…and so on. The end result is that Americans will be happier with all of the things. But…it’s a vapor, mist…a myth!
You can sell drugs but for so long, a gang can replace a family but for so far. You’ll end up dead or in prison. You pay for fake hair and nails but for so long. Eventually the money will run out. How many talent shows, record deals and movie contracts can there be?! And add to it, the runway PC culture and you have your usurped American dream, replaced by the elusive pink unicorn. Where no one is happy.
That unhappy discontentment spreads across the globe. Those needing the basic necessities of life, swap out the dream for getting those needs, for getting the pink unicorn they see on TV shows and celebrity news.
But you and I know that it is only a small percentage that are professional athlete, movie stars etc. There are far more middle income and poor families than there are super rich and celebrities…
Perhaps, if we Americans clear our vision, we would have less disgruntled Americans and far less disillusioned immigrants. The Native nations and early settlers had it right…the Nations took, grew and ate what was needed. The settlers wanted to be free of corrupt control. Work for themselves…earn and earn the right to keep what they worked hard for. Yes. Of course they partied like rock stars. When the crops were in! When the days work was completed! When their children married! When the baby was born! You get the idea, right?
So now the dream is to get what…? Famous? A million Hits or Likes? The Patriots would leap from their graves, Board their ships and serve the King, if they could see what their spilled blood has produced. I could see their zombified corpse standing in Constitution Hall ready to put flame to parchment…
So, is the American Dream dead? No, I don’t think so but we do have a skewed view of that dream. For me, personally, it’s about doing the job I love. Saving money for my retirement years, getting out of debt before I retire. Hey, that educational debt doesn’t disappear on its own and I highly doubt, social security and Medicare will cover the cost. The dream, is also about enjoying time with our families, enjoying vacations from our daily lives. Sharing stories, life lessons, an occasional visit from neighbors and friends. Talking to strangers and making them new friends. Meeting someone interesting…perhaps, marrying them. Extend that circle with a child…
Well, I guess that’s just me. Yet, it seems that when we focus on the things that matter most, the essentials of life, we tend to be happy people. Content. But when we Americans allow ourselves to drift from the essentials, the American Dream. We fall for the elusive pink unicorn. A cancerous myth, that spreads worldwide…
What do you think? Until next time, dear reader…