Saturday, January 15, 2011

American Dream

I can't help but feel annoyed with the American Dream. I've been trying to figure out why I have such an issue with it. So I have been researching, "what exactly is the American Dream?"

Most Americans would say that the American Dream is having the security of owning your own home and then starting a family. Why does that piss me off so much?

I now know why I have such issues with the American Dream. I have wanted to flee from the American Dream mentality because it is confining. I find it to be a formula and I find it incredibly uncreative. I want to be clear though. This is not an attack on any home-owners. I'm not even opposed to being a home-owner one day in my life or having a family. I, in no way, look down on anyone that owns a home, just as I don't look down on anyone who eats meat, or who isn't a Christian. I am a vegan Christian with a problem with the American Dream and I don't believe that you should be everything that I am, just because I am. However, I would be curious to know how many people out there feel burdened by their debt and by the responsibility to home up-keep?

Anyway...our Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." So, I have to ask, "Why do we assume that all Americans would fulfill their right to life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness in a 30-year mortgage?"

All this to say, we (Matt and I) really pride ourself on the fact that we're a little bit a-typical. We don't want to fall into the American Dream trap just because a lot of people that we know have the American Dream and love it. Also, we certainly want to feel like we can act on a whim, just like when we moved to China, or bought our car in the States, or traveled to Thailand, or bought his wedding ring, or took a roommate in our first year of marriage. All of which are decisions that we have not regretted, and are opportunities that we are glad that we took.

But still, there is a sense of guilt. It is easy to feel conflicted. Sometimes, I will break down and tell Matt that we need to be thinking more seriously about settling down. Why isn't it that I can accept that we are pretty settled and what exactly does it mean to settle down? The other day, Matt and I, collectively took off our wedding rings and just held them and stared at them. Our goal was to see these rings as symbols of something greater and more meaningful than the first step in the American Dream. It worked. Sometimes, I flip out. I think, "Oh my God, Matt. We don't have a plan for our future!" But on this day, we took off our wedding rings and looked at them and said, "well, we don't have a plan, together. And it feels right."

This is really a pretty personal blog for me. A lot of them have been. I don't normally share a whole lot of information with everyone out there, but I think this one is specifically important. Maybe you'll read it and think twice about making us feel bad for not knowing how long we'll be in China or if we'll ever have children. This isn't public information, but still I feel like I have to share it so that you'll know why I don't want to share our future plans. It's none of your business, but yet we owe it to you when we break the mold. I believe that some people think we're radical, and that part doesn't bother me. It's the discomfort that people feel in the fact that we don't have a plan. The only discomfort we feel is being reflected off of others and it shouldn't be like that. We're doing just fine. In fact, I would say that Matt and I have achieved the Real American Dream, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

That, however, leads me to another lucky we are to be Americans. I never really realized how patriotic I actually am, but the Chinese people may never feel the same freedoms that we are so lucky to possess. But, I'll save that for another blog post, another day.

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