Saturday, May 31, 2008

The American Melting Pot and The American Dream

A lot can be said about the so-called American "melting pot," the general theory being that people of different cultures come to America and melt into the American 1950's "ideal" family with 2.5 children, a white picket fence around a brand new cookie cutter house, and a dog named Max or Rover or some other American name for a mutt or perhaps a German Shepard or dalmatian.

Of course, the 1950's American Dream comes from an atypical mold. It is impossible for everyone to attain the American Dream because the American Dream as the picture perfect 1950's lifestyle -- with a shiny new family car, ever wise and never rash father figure, docile and obedient wife and children, and a single-income paycheck that will always cover your every need and sometimes a little extra for a gift for the wife and children because they're just so super -- it is ideal for only one member of the family:  the father, traditional and ideal with a sports jacket, loafers, and a shallow, brimmed hat. That's the only person in the atypical "traditional" family that the American Dream really serves.

In fact, the idea behind the "American Dream" is neither American in origin nor a remotely new concept. It stems from the want of an ideal life.  It is a dream life that all who have not wish and desire to attain if they realize that such a thing could even be plausible, regardless of how unlikely. It is for this reason people melt into American culture, perhaps for good reason, to find success. Many times success is found. Many times people are accepted into a culture and into that way of life. They find the path to success and take it.

Others do not make it. And still, others make it for a while and then lose it. Immigrants or natives, it doesn't matter, eventually, there will be someone who doesn't make it because they don't fit into the atypical mold of the American Dream. Maybe it will take a while and they'll successfully run a farm or a business, but then, even two, three or ten generations later, they are not able to secure a place at the table, an economic downturn hits and they are no better off than subsistence, if that, or maybe American society decides to discriminate against them for some reason and they cannot find a job or get a break. Regardless of the reason, they lose the American Dream. They may lose a home or a car; they might not be able to pay for good schools for their kids; they may not be able to pay for food, heat, or health care. And then the dream will have failed them. The promise of a better life will be snatched away, a slap in the face to the hard work of these good people.

But, there's still another group, which up until this point I've only touched upon: Rather than just those who lose the American Dream, there are people that the American Dream, the1950's ideal, does not want. They don't want Blacks. They don't want Muslims. Or gays. Or atheists. Or communists. Or socialists. Or women for that matter. Or any number of groups that hold ideas or genetic material that was seen as evil or bad by conservatives in the 1950's. They wished to make an America in their image, reinforced by Reaganism of the 1980's, a WASP culture, a utopia for those who look and feel and believe like them and them alone. Because their views are tried and true and will always lead them higher up the ladder, further along, the path to success. They will step on the rest and use their toil and labor to elevate themselves and once there expend those who are no longer needed and oppress those who -- once like they themselves were -- are now needed to push higher or drive further along the path to their dream. And in the end, what is that dream for these people but to make it at all costs and by all means necessary.

Those left behind will always lose even if they too desire success. They lose because they are different and their differences can be used as a tool of oppression by others to elevate themselves over them.  And, there is nothing any one person can do about it.

So, America is really two entirely separate melting pots, one of them containing those who have and therefore can fit into the atypical mold for the American Dream and one containing those who have not and for one reason or another cannot be part of that mold.  Those who have hold in common the wealth and 1950's conservatism / 1980's Reaganism and those who have not are gays and atheists and Blacks and Latinos, the inner-city and fringe dwellers who even if born into success know they don't belong but still desire so much for a place at that table that they would change everything they are to be accepted or if this is impossible take down the American elite as much as they can.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

101 Days

There are 101 days left to this vacation and already I'm bored silly. Go figure, I know. They, who ever they are, say that vacation is a time for rest and relaxation, but I'm more relaxed when I have something to keep me entertained. Work doesn't really bother me that much, not compared to having nothing to do whatsoever. It gets you moving, keeps you on the ball if you will. Nothing, it keeps you tired and bored and stupid. So tomorrow I'll go find something to do to keep me occupied at least for a little while. Only when there is motivation is there progress, and only with progress do we find greater motivation.

Vacation is nice when it's about a week or so. It's just enough time to lie around and do nothing, thinking about the stuff you've finished since the last time you've sat around thinking about the stuff you've finished since the time before. There's no time for other activities, if there was I'd bet that vacation wouldn't be that fun. A week is all that I need.

Last summer my only goal was to get in touch with who I was, to answer for myself those pesky little questions that everyone has but rarely has the time to think about in detail. Well, I did it. All summer I thought and thought about myself. What it means to be me. What it means to feel. What it means to exist. What purpose I could have. Etc. Etc. All those absurdly rhetorical questions that bug the hell out of every bored person.

To make a long story short: I answered most of those questions, but in the end came up with more questions that I couldn't yet understand or solve. So, I was back to square one. Just great. Just what I needed. So, was it worth it? Sure, analyze away. It's good for people to come to a greater understanding of who they are and what their purpose is. (Etc. Etc.) But don't think that the questions will ever stop. They don't. But that which you gain along the way should be the prize not the destination.

I've got a long while again this year, and while I'm not particularly planning on spending it all thinking about the great new questions that I have, I'm sure a part of the summer will tend towards that. And, at least this time I won't be annoyed when I leave with more pressing questions than I came in with.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Why Am I Mad?

If for any length of time you get to know me -- the real me that is -- then you'll surely realize that I am more than slightly mad. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's the good kind of mad, the fun kind. But mad nonetheless. There are few things I enjoy more than expression. I enjoy expressing myself, in anger, in rage, in laughter, in a great deal of things. The key is to realize that I am in fact genuinely that expression. I am angry. Or rageful. Or humored. Or whatever else pops up that day. But it doesn't mean that I take it too seriously. I'm not going to dwell on bad things any more than the good. And, I'm not going follow through with many of my well-timed, and sometimes not well-timed, remarks. Well, at least for the most part. Sometimes I can't help myself.

And so long as you know that I am not kidding you should probably know why. Why do I take certain things very seriously and others humorously and still others rather lazily. It's because everything isn't the way it should be. We have hunger and war, famine and disease. We have injustice and bigotry. We have fear and shame. These, and countless others, are the defects of mankind.

I do not accept George Bush as president. I do not accept American politicking as set in stone. I don't accept hunger and ill-health. I don't accept bigotry and intolerance of other's views and beliefs. I don't accept that these things exist in a world where we could, if we wanted to, full well help each and every person who is trampled on by mankind. It is our fault. And I'm going to remind you of it. I'm going to scream at my TV and shout at my radio. I'm going to do it, not because I want to, but because I have to. I will not accept an imperfect world. I will not accept a flawed existence. And I will not rest so long as stupidity and greed run amok and astride the hopes and fears of the masses. We have to start somewhere and we have to start some time. Why not here and now? What could be more important?

And guess what. I'll be damned mad until I succeed.

I'll leave you with a link which seems to adequately describe the inner workings of my mind, just kidding... enjoy...