I have been thinking a lot lately about whether the narrative of the American Dream is changing.
My father was compelled to move from Turkey to the United States when he was 17 because of a car commercial for Ford that he saw on the small television set in his parents’ ornamentally decorated living room wherein “the road looked so big and the energy was so free.” Duly following, he applied to some universities in the United States, was accepted to one in Gainesville, Florida, packed his bag and within months, was here.
He has said, on several occasions, that there’s no opportunity, anywhere else, for the kind of freedom that the United States offers. The American Dream, in all its capitalist glory, was palpable.
As recently as last month, he condemned the way in which we operate now: “When I was a kid out of college,” he recalls, “we measured success in dollars, not Instagram followers.”
Twisted as it may sound, this notion got me thinking: has the narrative of the American dream changed? Or perhaps more acutely, (because fundamentally, the dream is one built on tenets that support unconditional happiness) have we, as individuals, finally gotten on the express train — surpassing what we think will make us happy (e.g. tangible comfort) to consider what is consistently fulfilling, i.e. “spiritual” wealth? Did we accidentally synonymize freedom with material wealth when in reality we were looking for what we thought wealth would bring?
More and more, I’m beginning to hear about individuals who have left their cushy jobs to pursue passion projects that indubitably assume substantial pay cuts. They say they’ve never been happier. I’m compelled to believe them.
Are you? In ~500 words, this week’s Man Repeller Writers Club Prompt wants to know where you stand on the shifting paradigm of The American Dream. All stories should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, January 15th at 12 pm. And in case you missed the last published story, enjoy this interpretation of Jay Z’s “New York State of Mind“.
Image via L’Officiel Netherlands