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The (New) American Dream

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The American Dream. It’s a fantasy we’re sold since birth that aims to convince us that the country we live in is the epitome of what every other place should aspire to be. It preaches that here in America anything is possible. It suggests that equality is king, that everyone has a leveled playing field, and that here, your wildest dreams will come true so long as you work hard and maintain integrity. We’re pacified with these ideas of a utopia that’s only soiled by a few bad apples. But the American dream is not that, and it’s never been that. For anyone needing proof as to why, 2020 was a constant and unrelenting reminder.

Priorities are changing, however, and they should be. The things people have long desired — vastly rooted in monetary and material gains — have been trumped (no pun intended) with dreams of more substance. At least, that goes for those whose lives have been impacted in some way, shape, or form by the trying year. I’m included in that. While the top of 2020 looked a lot like planning tropical vacations, coordinating outfits, and constant brunches and happy hours, the change of pace has left me to think about what my American dream actually is.

The terror of seeing a country in such disarray has a way of forcing you to reevaluate what’s actually important. When I turn on the news and hear about a rising death rate stemming from a global pandemic, see innocent children stripped from their parents, and witness the systemic oppression that plagues our society, it proves that this country is wrought with everything it claims to be against. The American dream as we’ve long known it, is nothing more than a fallacy. As the looming devastation continues, as does the fact that we as a people need to redefine what the American dream actually sets out to be.

I dream of a world where healthcare is equitable for all, regardless of race, social status, or gender. One where those three demographics don’t automatically make you predisposed to be more negatively impacted by an unforeseen health crisis. I dream of a world that cherishes integrity and substance over celebrity. It’s one where public figures aren’t revered as immortal and excused from being held accountable for their actions. They’re not given massive platforms and influence without first proving themselves a person of moral standing. I dream of a world not wrought with racism, bigotry, and homophobia, where people can peacefully exist without worrying about the ramifications that come with simply existing. I dream of a world where 545 children aren’t sent away into a society that has unlawfully taken their parents away from them. I dream of a government that cherishes the interests of its majority of citizens rather than just the 1%. One that sets aside their own personal interests and makes decisions that actually create equity. I dream of peace. I dream of a world where I don’t toss and turn at night due to anxiety for the world we’re living in, fearful that I’ll wake up in the morning to yet another bad news alert on my phone, or more, fall victim to the many injustices waged against minorities. I could go on for days about what my view of the American dream is, as I’ve barely scratched the surface with what I’ve shared here.

Dreaming has become a coping mechanism of sorts these days. The constant daydreams and drifting off in moments of silence have proven temporary moments of peace in a time where there seems to be nothing but unrest, divisiveness, and fear. America’s got to take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate if it’s actually held up to what it’s long portrayed the American dream to be. But until then, I’ll keep doing my work, and encouraging others to do the same.