September 21, 2011

dream shifting...

So there's a commercial on TV that really bugs me--it's put out by the National Realtors Association, and it's about home ownership. Seen it? If not, it's a young boy and his grandpa, and the boy says someday he'll own a house, and the grandfather, in a sad and very resigned voice says, "I hope so." The narrator goes on to say that the American Dream of home ownership is is peril.

I have a few issues with this. First off, it's highly negative and resigned. Like there's nothing to be done. It offers no solutions to the perceived problem. It's leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

But the bigger issue I have with it is this: who says home ownership IS the American Dream (yes, that should be capitalized, go with me on this)? America has long been the "Land of Opportunity." It's a place where all other people flock in order to make something. And I suppose that owning a home is something. But as far as a national dream, I'm not sure owning homes cuts it anymore.

Personally, home ownership is not something that I'm overly attached to. I do appreciate a roof over my head, but I don't have to own it. Owning stuff ties us down, it demands our time and attention. And to be honest, I'd rather spend my resources doing other stuff. I want the freedom to go if I need to.

Freedom. That's what I think of when I think of the American Dream. The chance to do what I want, the chance to make something of myself. The opportunity to live to the best of my ability. To do what I was created for.

Has the American Dream shifted? Are more of us saying "no thanks" to the old dream of owning stuff, of staking a claim? If you look at my generation and those following us, I would tend to say yes. I don't think it's wrong to want to own a home, I just think that it's not for everyone.

What do you think? What is your American Dream (or Canadian, or whatever your nationality might be!)?

1 comment:

MangyCat said...

I think you've got the right idea in saying that it is freedom that most people are striving for, whether it is freedom from debt or working for the man or pain or whatever. That looks different for everyone, but what it does come down to is this idea of freedom.

Personally, I haven't given much thought to what I would call an "American Dream" for myself. I suppose it is the pursuit of meaning--the knowledge that I am making a difference in another human being's life. But I don't think that really has anything to do with being an American.

Maybe I haven't mentally bought into the idea that there has to be an American Dream. That seems sort of an old idea. There are so many people in this country with so many different dreams--truly, is there any way to categorize a singular dream for us all?

I believe you've gotten as close as you can get for the American Dream in saying that it is all about FREEDOM.