The American Dream
July 4th – a date that over two hundred years has been a symbol of freedom and independence. My grandfather and great uncle, Frank and Rudy, loved to tell me stories of family heritage; endless hours have been filled with how my great grandparents made the trek from Poland and Slovakia to get to this Great Nation. Like many, they came over, often one at a time, with little more than the clothes on their backs – risking their lives and the lives of their families for the idea of freedom.Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to reach their fullest potential and not be held back by someone else’s ravenous desire for power, status and oppression. I feel a lump of pride rise in my throat as I think about the stories of triumph, hard work, dedication and the sheer drive for a better life that drove thousands upon thousands of immigrants to roll the dice and take a chance on America. Success stories floated across the ocean of people like John D Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, average guys until they hit American soil, enticing Europeans to get here at any cost. Those immigrants were my family, and they were yours too.It’s because our great grandparents and our great great grandparents said, “Freedom or nothing!” that I am typing this blog and you are reading it on your smart phone.
It’s for the very same reason that thousands of immigrants are overwhelming our borders and sending their small children, alone, to border patrol. They want freedom, they want the chance for a better life, they want their children to have more than what they were offered. They want their kids to be able to pass down the same stories we do. Can we as a nation truly be so hypocritical as to deny these immigrants the very same story that has us standing here today?
The problem with that however, is just how skewed the American Dream has become. A good day’s work and the ability to provide the necessities for your family is no longer enough. We all want more, and we deserve more and everyone deserves more regardless of how hard we are or aren’t working. So what if you work a minimum wage job, you deserve more! So what if you didn’t go to college or pursue some type of formal training, you deserve more! It’s this entitlement mentality that the government is fostering by trying to provide everything to everyone, that is essentially robbing America of her dream. We cannot continue the lie that we all deserve to have life handed to us, because quite frankly, we can’t afford to pay for it anymore and I for one, don’t want to pay for it anymore. Ellis Island wasn’t a welfare office in the early twentieth century and it isn’t one now. The one and only thing each of us deserves, American and immigrant, is the right to work hard for a living. After that, whatever happens next is up to the individual. Some will have the dedication, drive and follow through that it takes to become the next CEO of a major company, and others will simply scrape by with the bare minimum – but all of us will be okay with it, because it’s a simple result of what you chose to work for, or didn’t. Yes, at times in life, we all experience difficulties, and need to rely on others for support. But that support comes from family and friends, and certainly isn’t intended to last forever, just to get you through. When that support comes indefinitely from the government, where then is one’s incentive to move on and work past the difficulty?
This entitlement is what is driving illegal immigration to be such a huge problem. We have thousands of people coming into our country and trying to pull from an already well over-burdened system, and we cannot possibly maintain the expectations that are currently in place. Immigration in the early 1900s wasn’t a crisis, because people worked without the expectation of being coddled and America wasn’t expected to foot the bill for their entry or exit. The American Dream has never been free, nor was it intended to be. The true soul of the American Dream was opportunity, and people were willing to work hard for that opportunity. I’m not sure exactly when asking people to work for a living and to take care of themselves became politically incorrect, but it’s time to bring that notion back into vogue, to stop putting our hands out for things we haven’t worked for, and to realize that we are here to support America, not the other way around.
Please leave your comments below, or toss me an e-mail:
Chrissy Jacobs: firstname.lastname@example.org