There is a sense of hopelessness and lack of resources in the U.S.A. For many Americans there appears to be a huge obstruction and near impossible path to realize the ever illusive American Dream. I believe in the American dream narrative. I grew up believing in that dream. To me the meaning of American Dream is an opportunity given to anyone to become successful with hard and honest work without injustice. Coming from another country as the new immigrant parents’ oldest son, going through the lengthy process to become a Naturalized Citizen of this greatest democratic country founded upon by the People, who desperately wanted freedom from monarchy, liberty to live in a free society where the justice rules and meritocracy is rewarded . Even at young age of 14 years old I knew the stark difference between an oppressive government ruled by a dictator under which I lived all 14 years, and a free democratic country, the U.S.A., our new home.
During the last thirty years there were slowly increasing signs of erosion in American people’s trust in our country’s most visible institutions. As we slowly found out the Nixon’s Watergate details, how the Vietnam War was started with lies, Reagan’s Drugs for Arms to support insurrection of Sandinistas against Nicaraguan government, Catholic institutional lies and cover-ups of the numerous pedophilic priests, San Jose Mercury News revealing the crack cocaine epidemic in California and how it started, systemic neglect of mentally disabled people by shuttering and permanently defunding mental institutions resulting in massive influx of homeless population and rising street drug use and the list goes on and on until the most recent events leading up to electing a president who mocked our government and the constitution.
Now just the last four tumultuous years the American dream became less and less plausible and even possible. In the minds of many the hopelessness grew to its worst level than at any other time for the individuals to achieve equality, justice, equal access to quality education, appropriate payments for their labor, humane and respectful treatment from others and the idea that as long as you abide by law, work hard and save, you can get ahead to reach the middle class incomes with equal protection from the law in a stable society where you can live free. The reason for this change was not too obvious, but everywhere we were seeing the signs of the decay and destruction of the American dream. The despair and impoverished looks in homeless people and the sight of insurrectionists destroying our capitol building, rampant usage of drugs, ever widening disparity between the rich and the poor, the way the government entities treating people of color, refugees, and frequent mass killings associated with gun violence, hateful comments against others with different ideas in social media, etc, etc. The impoverished mind and spirit showed in every fiber and aspect of our lives. The America is sick and the American dream is ever shrinking idea consumed by the cancer that is not yet fully diagnosed and worse yet, not treatable.
I think the healing of our nation and the collective idea of American dream must occur by fixing the poverty of our people. What I mean by Poverty is the impoverished state of mind of our many citizens, who had lost the vision of hope in our government, lost the sight of reaching for higher ideals and goals, of servicing others and embracing the ideals of our forefathers who constructed this idea of a country built on the foundation of freedom, justice and equal opportunity for those people who are willing to work hard. We the Americans left no one behind. We the Americans were not selfish. We the Americans embraced others in needs. We the Americans volunteered to fight till death against Tyrannical government, Communism, Religious terrorists and valued every person in need. I remember when our former president, Bill Clinton, went over to North Korea to bring back two Asian-American journalists captured by the North Korean military. That gesture was so symbolic of what this country was all about. I was moved just like everyone else by this act of humanitarianism of the best of American government and the ideals that she stood for.
The American Dream can and must go on. There is not much hope for the humans if we let this experiment in new governance to wither away like all of the best ideas going back to the Greece and Renaissance periods. We the People should embrace the ideals that our forefathers sacrificed their lives for.
How do we fight back this cancerous hopelessness? I believe that it all starts from us individually. We must do the act. We must get back to health. In order to fight the disease, we need to start by critically viewing the source of the problem. The source is our own skepticism, mistrust, selfishness, embracing violence, fearful of our neighbors and strangers, countless hours spent watching and believing the falsehood in social media, engaging in disposable cultures, starting from disposable plastic kitchen wares to discarding the marriage vows and other promises. Just as a starter, we should begin by picking up the trash everywhere we go, whether it is a beach, street, shopping center, our own backyards or neighborhoods. We should volunteer for our country. We should volunteer as a family unit to feed the hungry people, homeless people, build housing for them. We should join at least one or two green movements to heal our planet. We should engage in positive social interactions in our social medial. Spend less on selfish things and spend more on helping others. It all starts from within ourselves. Don’t be the bystanders as our American Dream is being drained away, like the dry sand of the time marking slowly the end of our dream falling hopelessly between our outstretched fingers hoping that someone else will hold our hands and help us when we hold our dream in our own hands.
F. S. Lee, M.D.
The Beneficiary of the American Dream