Saturday, March 4, 2006

The American Dream

When I was a kid I always thought of the American dream in terms of two things, a family sitting down to dinner together and baseball. As I've grown older my perception of what the American dream is has shifted and yet remained in some ways the same. The American dream is not a six figure salary, two cars in the garage, and a television in every room. The American dream is knowing where you are, where you have come from, and where you are going with all the opportunities and routes to get you there. I believe the American dream to be a state of stability, happiness, and appreciation for the subtle things, not necessarily the big things.

There is more to the American dream than sitting down to dinner with your family. The American dream is sitting down with a group of people that you have chosen, that love you, that you consider your family. There is more to the American dream than baseball. The American dream is playing baseball until you cannot move. It's that feeling in about mid-April (or the last week here in Southeast Idaho before the snow fell) when ignoring the smell of the air is not an option and you find yourself out, often in the cold, playing ball until you can no longer see it soaring toward your face. The American dream is children singing their national anthem whether or not they grasp the true meaning of the words. The American dream is the feeling in grown children when the goosebumps overtake them as they hear their national anthem in a classroom, a stadium, anywhere.

There is no separation between a liberal's American dream and a conservative's dream. In the dream we are all one and the same. It is walking into a home during the Depression with FDR on the wall next only to Christ or the Pope. It is walking into a home after the Challenger disaster to see a photo of Reagan in a cowboy hat. The American dream for me is walking into my home and seeing a picture of John Kennedy with a quote about a man he thought so highly of, a quote that echoes in my mind, a quote about Robert Frost.

The American dream is what we make it.

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