Ah! The American Dream. Just imagining the letters forming the word “American Dream” leads our imagination painting swirls of sparkle and gold. It was once an old ideology that determination and hard work achieved the American dream. The next door neighbor or the passerby on the street who worked hard for 10 long years with ambition circulating through their blood, the one who had achieved financial success, a white picket fence, a family, and by God Maytag appliances was what made the American Dream. Today that nostalgia is no longer with us; it is endangered in corporate America. Today it is the replaced by the catchy idea “Get Rich! Quick!” as noted by Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, who expresses in his article “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Changing Conceptions of the American Dream”, that Americans are trying to strike it rich by winning millions from game shows, lotteries, and frivolous lawsuits.
Arriving to the University of LA at Monroe, my daily commute to Monroe, LA from the rural parish of West Carroll, LA, I notice half a million-dollar homes and state of the art sport utility vehicles under a four-car garage. As a native of Ouachita parish I wander did everybody win the lottery after I left seven years ago, or did a sudden flock of CEOs, doctors, lawyers, or even drug dealers move in. I do not think for a minute that all these houses belong to the wealthy, but what I see is the middle class man obsessed with material objects singing along with Madonna’s song “Material Girl” and living paycheck to paycheck. There is such a need to be competitive or to be richer than the other American, and that if we cannot achieve financial wealth, than we shall act is if we are waddling in money. The obsession of material objects and financial wealth has lead millions of Americans to day dreaming of winning the lottery, (where as statistics shown they have a better chance of getting struck by lightning), trying out and turning in applications for various game shows that make you starve, live with nuts, fight malaria, act like the devil, and make a fool of yourself on national television, and then there are other Americans who will smoke twenty packs of Marlboro Reds a day just to sue Marlboro for being addicted, having lung cancer, or hooked up to an oxygen tank to get rich.
Social ethics change overtime but the true values of the American Dream still live in me. Sure I dream of winning the lottery or some imaginative rich relative that kicked the bucket and left me a huge sum of money, but in reality that is not going to happen. I want the little house with the white picket fence, the two-child family, the nice family car, and financial success made possible by my determination and hard work. I am lucky because my father who actually lived the American Dream instilled these values onto me. He was drafted into Vietnam when he was just married, and luckily was stationed in Germany for only 2 years, to only return to the United States with a small savings. In ten years, determination and hard work yielded a twenty-eight hundred square foot heated house, five acres of land, three children, two self-owned businesses, financial success, and two nice family vehicles. I must say that this certainly does not mean that I do not play the lottery, and if given the chance to be on a game show to win a million dollars that I would not take on the challenge. Hey, I am American too!