Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The American Dream?
I am not sure that every one's definition of the American dream is the same. Or maybe it is just something that can't be defined. Perhaps that's why in this overly political environment we are having trouble deciding if we are losing the American dream, or even straying from it.

When I was growing up my Government told me that the biggest threat to my way of life, if not my life itself, was the USSR.  Those Red bastards were set on taking over the world and converting everyone to Communism.  Nikita Kruschev even said, "We will bury you", meaning me and my generation.  I remember sitting in a grade school class during the Cuba missile crisis just waiting for World War III to start. Even before the day of 24 hour news cycles and in your face live broadcasts it was excessively frightening to us kids. 

I may not have known exactly what was going on politically but I knew the stakes.  What the Communists would do to us was drilled into Cold War kids.  In a Communist world I would be told what job I could have. I would be told who my leaders would be. Religion would be outlawed and the churches would be closed. I would be told what to buy, and I would simply be a mindless cog in the wheel of a communism. I knew that in Nikita's world I probably would not be allowed to pursue my dream career of performing as a ventriloquist.  I would become a worker bee in the mindless hive of an oppressed people. If we were taken over by Communist I would have no choice, no freedom.

Given that background,  to me the American dream can be distilled down to one simple concept- freedom of choice. The American dream is the freedom to choose.  Here in America we have choice. I can pursue any career I want, any religion I want, any friends I want, vote for any person I want and choose to buy anything I want, if I can afford it. My life and happiness are bound only by my ability to accomplish it or  I can choose to accomplish nothing.  I can choose to be unhappy. The point is this decision is my choice. That is freedom of individuality; I am unlike any other individual in the world so I am free to choose who I  am.

We no longer fear the Communist, the cold war is over.  But, we are still being bombarded by fear that we will lose this freedom of choice.  Now we are told it is the specter of Islamic terrorists, a particular political party or even individual politicians that threaten to take away our freedom of choice. One of the presidential hopefuls has even proposed that there is an outright attack on America's religion. He said the President may be a Christian, but he is the wrong kind of Christian.  Conformance to one particular idea when it is seen as right and all others wrong is not just a communistic idea, it is fascism. It contradicts the very nature of individual freedom to choose. It is definitely not the American dream.

The idea that we were founded as a Christian nation and that foundation is being attacked is ridiculous.  The fundamental principle in America is freedom which includes freedom of religion among others.  That is freedom to practice any religion without America telling you which religion you must freely choose. We are not an atheistic nation, but a nation that believes all religious roads lead to God.  You get to choose which road you want to take... or choose not to choose, that is true freedom. 

In the name of religion the freedom of women is being attacked from the extreme right. The Supreme court concluded that women have the right to choose to have an abortion many years ago.  There are those who want to turn back the clock and over turn that decision. It is not a mandate that all women have to have an abortion, it is simply the American freedom of choice.  Those women who do, or do not make that choice, are not punished for their decision either way by the government.  That is America.  That freedom of choice is being challenged and now even birth control is under attack in the name of religion. To make birth control available to every woman, even those who can not afford it is freedom of choice. Once again it is not a requirement that women use, purchase or even believe in birth control, it is just freedom of choice.  America should not be a nation that allows freedom of choice only for the rich.

Until the early 70's  the women of Iran had freedom, not to the extent American women have freedom, but the were definitely not oppressed.  The Islamic revolution deposed the Shaw and a national religion took over politics and the country.  In less than ten years women were relegated to the dark ages of sharia law with all the freedoms they had in 1970 taken away.  It is a cautionary tale.  If religion is allowed to take over politics, freedom of choice will be the first victim. If history has anything to teach us it is the women who will be oppressed first. Don't believe it can not happen here.

The moral to this blog is simple.  Choose Freedom. Err on the side of the ability to choose.  Don't let any religion or political system restrict your choices. Defend choices like, who you can marry, when you want to have a baby, what church, mosque or synagog you attend but, mostly defend your choice to decide what is right and wrong for yourself. The American Dream is this: as long as your freedom of choice does not restrict anyone else's freedom to choose differently, your life, your world and your path, is only up to you.
As you were,


Bob Baker said...

Hear! Hear!!

P. Grecian said...

We live in mean-spirited times. It's happened before. We always win out over it...and it passes.

This is a good way to start the day--reading something so uplifting and affirming from someone I deeply respect. Thanks, Jay!

Bob Conrad said...

I agree completely Jay. I think we as a country would be a lot more respected if we stopped telling the rest of the world how to live.

Tom Farrell said...

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

All of the liberal leaning political discussion is making me a bit light headed. However, I did enjoy your comments on the cold war. I remember going to the state fair (day off from school and free tickets) and walking through all of the bomb shelter exhibits; there were brochures in abundance. Keep in mind this was after the car exhibits, rides, and food (translated as cotton candy). At the time, being nuked out of existence, did weigh heavily on our young minds. T