Death by Suburbia

What is the American dream?

For most people in the world, it’s the ability to come to this country where they have freedom and rights; to escape from persecution: religious, political or otherwise. People have flocked here in droves over the past hundred years and have achieved success, at least in their view: 2 1/2 kids, white picket fence, perfectly trimmed lawn and a dog.

That was the old American dream. Those kids have grown up and that dog is dead. So I ask you: for those kids who were born in America, what is their American dream? Does it even exist anymore?

I’ve gone around and asked a few friends about what their goals in life are, or have been. Most of them have been the same: if the person is a student, it’s usually something about doing well in school, getting a good job and living a long, comfortable life. If the person I ask has been in the work force for a while, then the answer is usually something about providing enough opportunities for their children to live a better life than they did. Some have said that they want to enable their kids to choose a career that they both enjoy and can make a comfortable living doing (sometimes implying that they don’t enjoy their own careers).

It’s quite possible that I’d receive a different set of answers if I asked people who lived outside the PNW (or any first-world country, really), but I’m sure it wouldn’t vary that wildly.

That’s not the life I want.

I don’t want to live a life where I’m stuck in the corporate machine, where I go through school only to become a slave to someone else, where I can try to do my best to make it up the ranks to make more money and live a more comfortable lifestyle in luxury and wealth. If I have kids, I certainly don’t want them to be thrust into this corporate machine, either.

When I was in China, I attended a church camp for youth students. The theme of the camp was, “Dreamers,” where we asked ourselves, “what is God’s dream for us individually?” Even if you don’t believe in God, I think there’s a valuable perspective to gain here:

The trick to finding out what this dream is is to find something that falls under these three criteria:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do I enjoy doing?
  3. What does the world need?

Simply put, this is what we believe we’re made to do. If you don’t believe in creation, then you can believe it’s your destiny. Whether or not you embrace it is your choice.

If you can figure this out for yourself, you’re already way ahead of the curve. Most people never figure this out and end up just dying without realizing their dreams. Put enough thought into it and you might end up figuring it out.

I’m not entirely sure what my dream is yet, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea.

Rotting away in a corporate office is not it.