The American Dream is to own a home. Or to provide a better life for the next generation. If it’s not either of those, it must be to provide equality to underprivileged groups. Or maybe, just maybe, it has nothing to do with material possessions, nothing to do with our kids, and nothing to do with guilt-racked appeals to save people who don’t yet live the life we think they ought to.
The American Dream is Liberty and Revolution. It is a selfish dream motivated by the desire of individuals to be free from being plundered by the masses and the aspiration to tear down the old world and build a new one. It is a dream driven by the desire to excel, the desire to shape, and the desire to bridge the gap between the life one imagines and the life one lives.
The American Dream is not built on sacrifice, or charity, or humility. It is instead built on a foundation of perseverance, magnanimity, and honesty.
Where sacrifice posits suffering as a virtue, perseverance accepts suffering as a healthy byproduct of achievement. Where charity places need as its foremost concern, magnanimity revels in the freedom, rather than the compulsion, of giving. Where modesty seeks to chastise greatness, honesty seeks never to boast or diminish, only to acknowledge the world as it is.
If you were watching the last election, you heard both Obama and McCain speak of “the American dream of home ownership” and heard both of them make reference to the “right to own a home”.
You have the right to a place to live — the right to a home. You have the right to a job that pays a “living wage”. You also have the right to an education. That’s what the American Dream is about — making the world a more equal place and giving to our children and those less fortunate.
Bullshit. You do NOT have those rights. They are rights only in the most twisted sense of the word, and they are NOT part of the American Dream. Those so-called rights are just state-sanctioned applications of force that entitle underprivileged groups to the industry of individuals. The American Dream of Liberty and Revolution sees rights as promises from the state to protect people’s lives and labor from being plundered by the masses.
You may think that you have the right to good health. No doubt you’ve heard Obama and countless others echo this right. Good health, though, requires the administration of good health care, which you can only receive if some doctor chooses to surrender to you her time and expertise.
Notice that I said “choose.” A doctor may be willing to trade her expertise to you for some kind of compensation, but it’s her choice. You have no more right to her time or expertise than she does to yours. Imagine if doctors could demand that you give them your time and talents. Neither of you has such obligations, and any American Dream that purports otherwise is simply a nightmare.
Is it selfish of a doctor to refuse care? Perhaps. Is it selfish of a plumber to refuse to fix a leaky pipe? Is it selfish of a pilot to refuse to fly passengers for free? Again, perhaps. But that selfishness is not only inescapable but also it is commendable. That selfishness IS the American Dream.
The American Dream is Liberty and Revolution. It is the revolutionary thought that what you have can be increased, that your contribution can be greater, that the impact you make on the world can expand. It is having the liberty to dream great thoughts and enact great works, inspired always by the selfish dream that who I am and the things I can do really matter.
The American Dream is, from its founding and at its core, a selfish one. America was built on the innovation and hard work of dynamic individuals whose hubris impelled them to challenge the establishment. They dared to dream of a freer, richer world and never saw themselves as instruments of some vague dream of sacrifice.
Our founding fathers envisioned a willing society of free individuals. Our nation was not created because the colonists felt a burning desire for equality. It was forged in the heat of a burning desire for freedom.
It was not defined by sacrificing one’s life to provide the charity of a better life to one’s children. It was not about the humility of accepting what you have. The American Dream is having the perseverance to protect Liberty and the magnanimity and honesty to demand Revolution.