By Kaitlin Mahar
We’ve all heard the stories. The boy growing up in a small apartment with his six siblings who built an oil empire. The at-risk youth living with her grandmother who became an talk-show host, author, or producer.
These stories classify America as the land of opportunity. Millions come with the same goal, and while the specifics of that goal have evolved over time, the idea of achieving the “American dream” hasn’t. Unfortunately, the American dream, the elusive temptress who has inspired many poems, books, and movies, is just a corpse that’s been rotting for decades.
Maybe that’s because these stories are too common or too depressing. Maybe nobody cares. However, if the American dream existed, the success stories would outnumber those of failure. Immigrants seeking a better life wouldn’t be working multiple dead-end jobs trying to survive. Healthcare wouldn’t be a luxury that only some could afford. Students wouldn’t have panic attacks about finding jobs that can support them and pay back Sallie Mae.
Americans’ idealism constructed the idea of the American dream, calling to her tired, her poor, her huddled masses yearning to breathe free. However, the greed of those who achieved their dreams caused the opportunity for others to reach their own American dreams to crumble into dust, polluting our air and filling our lungs, and choking us with the truth that we aren’t special and life simply isn’t fair.
After all, if it were, then the American dream wouldn’t be just a dream, would it?