If you move to the United States of America and work hard, one day your efforts will be repaid and you will become filthy rich, popular, and/or get all the chicks.

Many people seem to forget the definition of dream when they think about this, base they life plans on it, then move to the USA. Obviously, they're in for a cruel shock.

I believe my imigrant ancestors would have defined the American Dream as something like this: If you come to America, you can find work that will pay a living wage for you and your family, and the government would let you live in peace. Some of the ancestors to whom I refer were Irish in the age of the potato famine, and others were Eastern European Jews who were sick of pogroms. The American Dream must have sounded pretty good.

What was once the American Dream is now dead.

The American Dream goes back to the Puritan ethics in Massachusetts. They believed that God rewarded his loyal servants by making them wealthy, mostly in the form of large houses and property.

This idea eventually developed into what was known as the Protestant Work Ethic. If you worked hard, you got rewarded. If you slaved all day and night and lived honestly and trusted in God, you would be rewarded.

Around the time of the first large immigrant waves in the United States, this idea was supplanted with The American Dream. You would hard, live honestly and be careful with your money and you would be able to support yourself and eventually retire. This promise drew immigrant from all over Europe and later from the east to America.

For many, this was the case and relentless work payed off. My grandfather came to America fleeing Nazi persecution. He didn't speak English, but he managed to hold down a job as a waiter for a very long time. Each week, he would deposit all of the money he earned in the bank, save enough to buy essentials. He did this for decades, and eventually he was able to raise two children and retire.

However, for many others, the American Dream was a lie. They came to this country poor, full of hope, only to be let down by a system that favored the captains of industry over the working class. They found 12-18 hour days, unsanitary living spaces, dangerous working conditions, insufficient pay and unforgiving bosses. Many died of starvation, disease, working place accidents or a combination of the aforementioned.

Later in the twentieth century, the American Dream began to be seriously misinterpreted. Novels such as The Great Gatsby emphasized how materialism and flash became the idealized American Dream, instead of hard-working honest living. In the fifties, Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman, which dealt with the image of success as well. It addressed the misconceptions of the white collar world and the nature of the stereotypical businessman.

Now, in the new millenium, it appears that the American Dream has become to become very wealthy without very much work. Current bling bling, Tommy Hilfiger and cultural trends focus on outwardly showing off money and wealth gratuitously.

The typical notion of "success" no longer has anything to do with moral character, honesty, financial planning and least of all, religion. It's simply to achieve monetary wealth and be able to spend indulgently with reckless abandon.

The American Dream is still alive and kicking.

The Dream is not mere materialism: gratuitous displays of bling, a nice car, a multi-million dollar mansion...These things might make you happy, and you may aspire to have them, but the one with the most toys still dies in the end.

The Dream is freedom: from religious persecution, from political persecution, to speak out, to assemble, to bear arms...

It is opportunity: to get an education, to get a job, to make life better for yourself (and your descendants, should you choose to have them).

It is also hard work. We do not know it as the American Handout. It will not land in your lap. Dreams are not achieved by wishing, waiting, or whining. This Dream is for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do for themselves. It demands responsibility and independence.

At the end of the day, you may be tired, you may be poor, but you will have the Dream to give you hope. You will think, "I can do better than this," so you will get up, and carry on working, and you will make your own life. That is the Dream.

If pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps doesn't give you a sense of achievement and accomplishment, then why are you in America anyway?

I surrender my consciousness
In the evening
I sleep
then i have dreams
American ones
dreams of shackles molesting
making love to naive ankles
moon-lit after hours
of promiscuous patriotism
fornication's inglorious wishes
under the falling stars
of unquestionable fertility
Illegal breeding
then birth
then luke-warm cubs
to succeed the liberating
lions of renaissance
the macabre inversion
jungle becomes purgatory
just a few more sedated adolescents
to fuel the Suzerain's napping valley
The American dream ensues...

Dreams of altered prophecy
perfidious facades of a new Nostradamus
white phantom gloves
hen-pecking a leprichaun in training
the dawn of midnight
then pumpkins and mice
rancid cockroaches and their infrasonic tickling
emerging the misty back alleys
of a gloomy kitchen
the return to medieval privation
dark martyrs
portentous wraiths of knights
jousting on cantankerous horses of propaganda
villagers grasping at lambency
stampeding toward criminy
and fratricide
the apocalypse of retrogress
dangerous empires
where swords evade scabbards in perfidy
wreaking onslaught
unto free-thinkers
and engineers of self-destiny
The American dream ensues...

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