Do Americans still want the American Dream? Do Americans still believe if we take responsibility for our lives and work hard, we will obtain individual freedom and achieve our personal goals? Do Americans even want to work hard? Or do they want a nanny state to take care of them?
These questions are rolling around in my mind today as I walk over a replica of the American prairie. I wonder what it was like to cross this country in a covered wagon, only to have the wagon break down or the horses die. What made early Americans even attempt this? I wonder what it was like to work a 12 -hour day in a factory before the Industrial Revolution or the advent of air conditioning. What about life in America when all clothes were handmade and cleaned in a river or a washtub? How did Americans “keep on keeping on?”
As I pondered these questions, in today’s news, Congress is debating the third stimulus package. Then I heard a discussion about how Americans don’t want to work. Is this true? Is that how you feel about work?
The website vintageamericanways dot com lends excellent insight into the American Dream. It lists six cultural values that are uniquely American, foundational to who we are as a country. One soon realizes that if Americans don’t want to work, we are no longer Americans in the word’s cultural sense.
Here are those six uniquely American cultural values:
Equality of Opportunity
The American Dream
Today, I think individual freedom is interpreted as “freedom from responsibility,” yet magically being able to go where you want, when you want, and do what you want. How does THAT work? Who pays the bills? I see Americans leaning towards extended adolescence with unrealistic expectations of what “Uncle Sam” should do for them.
Equal opportunity in today’s America seems to mean “equal outcomes.” In reality, equal opportunity comes with no assurance of equal success. “Fairness” is not defined by comparable outcomes but by the opportunity to try and compete in the first place. One uses individual freedom to be self-reliant in preparing to compete for the job. It is not a given that you will get the job or succeed in the job. It’s just the opportunity to try.
Are Americans as a nation losing their desire to have personal goals and work hard to achieve them? Are they still willing to compete? Are they willing to do the tedious tasks of delaying gratification, working any job until things get better, training with diligence, searching for opportunities, and striving for excellence?
If early Americans had these values, how did we learn them? If American values are passed down from generation to generation, how are we in a place today where desire, hard work, and the American Dream are even questioned?
Asking these questions is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. ??