(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Death by 1000 cuts/ Modern Living)
3. Cigarette smoking
4. Illegal drug use
5. Antibiotics and super bugs
6. Antibiotics in meat
7. GMO in crops
8. Household Pollutants and Chemical spill
9. Infrastructure deterioration
What Ever Happened to “The American Dream”?
By Geela Parish, Contributing Editor of Geela’s World
Do you ever wonder what happened to the average citizen’s ability to achieve The American Dream? Is there something about the pursuit of The American Dream that contributes to failing systems and institutions (from an Enron economy to failing education, the deterioration of the family unit, social ills such as senseless violence, suicide, substance abuse and perversion)?
A recent study reveals that the overwhelming majority of Americans are now experiencing more stress and less true fulfillment and optimism than ever before. They believe that the odds of them winning the lottery are probably much better than their odds of attaining The American Dream. And the current climate of global terrorism coupled with growing uncertainty and failing systems and institutions only makes their faith in attaining The American Dream for success, happiness and fulfillment seems less likely. The American Dream is becoming more and more like the Impossible Dream.
When one looks at the evolution of the concept of The American Dream, it’s hard not to notice the sharp contrast of “before and after” or “this was then, this is now.”
The concept of The American Dream was basically originated from suffering periods of lack, following the Great Depression and WW2 when people had appreciation for work because it was scarce. The main concern was security and basic survival. As such, the focus of The American Dream was on wholesome values such as a strong work ethic, integrity, family, community and moral values. It created joy of life, pride in work and family and a sense of community. In sharp contrast, The American Dream is no longer attainable by most people. How many people can afford a home considering the ridiculously high prices? And decent jobs with stable companies are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Sure, we have accumulated lots of stuff (toys), but they only bring us artificial joy, which is as fleeting as it is cruel.
It was hard work, integrity and wholesome moral values that provided the solid foundation for creating prosperity and economic boom in this country. It was prosperity with integrity and purpose that brought us a sense of real joy and pride coupled with a strong sense of community. However, success has its own trappings, and with success came the desire to “keep up with the Jones’s.” Need eventually turned into greed. The new generation wanted more, in fact they demanded a higher standard of living almost at all costs, even if it meant getting into serious debt. Life was no longer about family and community but instead was more about status (through money and power, with the obsession with fame and fortune for the wrong reasons). And thus began the pursuit of materialism with all the side effects associated with it.
And when need turns to greed, the results are inevitable. The same spirit that created capitalism and prosperity has also created corruption, compromised integrity and the erosion of wholesome values systems that eventually has led to failing systems and institutions.
In a materialistic driven society, where the love of power and money overcomes the power of love, anything becomes fair game. The system, including the media only perpetuated this concept of the newly evolved American Dream for self-serving reasons (to make more profits), while turning us from a nation of producers to a nation of insatiable consumers that made us forget our spiritual roots. Thus, human excellence has given way to human weakness while enslaving us to our own addictions and desires. In fact, we hear so much about the Enron type of corruptions and dirty politics fueled by special-interest money, that it has virtually become an accepted practice.
The prevailing mentality in American society today is that you can get something for nothing. There is a sense of entitlement and an expectation of wanting the good life without having to work hard for it. This is reinforced, glorified and perpetuated by the media with shows like “The Lifestyle of The Rich and Famous.” When all you see is glamour, but not the hard work and sacrifice that goes into achieving success, it only inspires more envy and the desire for a “get rich quick” scheme leading to the erosion of morality and integrity.
Consider the breakdown of the family system. When both parents spend long working hours (sometimes just to make ends meet), their children are left alone, being raised by their peers, gangs and TV. Family values and compromised integrity simply don’t run parallel. By failing to instill good values in their children, children have become corrupted by default, increasingly turning to violence, which in turn negatively affects not only our way of life, but our economy as well. Once again, the culprit is the pursuit of materialism.
Now consider the increased senseless violence at our schools and unchecked crime on our streets. Both can be traced to the pursuit of materialism, which drives people to corruption, compromised integrity and the erosion of wholesome values systems. Violence is a reflection of being away from family and community, an anti-social behavior and a lack of a sense of belonging. After all, how can children feel safe and truly cared for when they are left alone without any clear boundaries? Crime too, is a reflection of the growing frustration and anger resulting from the perception of lack of opportunity, and the equal sharing of prosperity. Call it like it is – it’s a class warfare between the haves and have-nots.
Here is a quick quiz for you:
• Do you know your neighbors? How about just their names?
• When was the last time you invited your neighbor to dinner?
• Why do you build a fence around your home?
• Have you noticed that the more possessions we have, the more we try to isolate ourselves with an attempt to protect our hard-won assets?
As tough as it is for our national pride to admit it, one can’t ignore the failing of our educational system as evidenced by failing test scores. This too is basically a reflection of the erosion of our moral values, work ethic and our failing institutions. Many politicians are driven by doing what is politically correct and getting elected rather than what’s in the best interest of the community. As the United States falls further behind the world in education, the negative impact on our economy will be felt too. Once we were the world’s leading producers of goods. But now our higher standard of living has escalated wages to the point where manufactures are taking jobs overseas (to places like China and India where cost of living is very low). As a result, we are importing more and more of the goods necessary to maintain our excessive lifestyle. As a result, the foreign trade deficit has ballooned to an all-time high. Our addiction to consumption has forced us to go into debt to the rest of the world. The huge budget deficit we hear so much about is really a deficit in integrity. Our only edge in the world economy has been in technology and innovation. But in the absence of good education, we will lose this competitive edge too. And if we wish to maintain our high standard of living, we must produce something of value in order to remain a valuable player in the global economy.
The break down is not limited to our systems and institutions alone. Our nerves and spirits are just as affected. With growing personal and national debt (with no way out short of a miracle or winning the lottery), out of control violence and crime, environmental and spiritual pollution, extreme stress, frustration, hopelessness, rejection over lack of opportunities, lack of accomplishments, or control of their own lives, send more and more Americans straight to a shrink’s office, take Prozac or worse, get hooked on drugs and other destructive substances as a way of coping. Many simply have reached their breaking point resulting in a diminished productivity at work, a diminished family harmony and enjoyment of life itself.
People are not as free as they would like to believe. The reality is that, knowingly or unknowingly, people are controlled, by virtue of being in debt and by being enslaved by the pursuit of materialism (a by-product of the pursuit of The American Dream as we know it). Perhaps it’s time to reflect on what really matters in life and ask ourselves the eternal question. “Are you working to live or living to work?”
Many feel this country has seen its finest hour unless we develop a new attitude. In the words of a fellow immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger, “no more business as usual.” It is a luxury we simply can’t afford. As an immigrant, who came from a different culture and a different values system and achieved The American Dream, not only do I appreciate the great opportunities and freedoms this great country has to offer, but I am able to see the sharp contrast and the cause and effect that contribute to the social and economic ills of our society. Indeed, social ills are an equal opportunity employer. But it is precisely because I care so deeply about this country, that I make my observations and offer innovative solutions in order to preserve the greatness of this country for future generations.
Finally, here is the burning question. How can one be happy and successful and still get a piece of The American Dream? How can we restore our failing systems and institutions and preserve a free and thriving society? What needs to happen is to restore a wholesome values system with integrity. We need to restore the true spirit of The American Dream which was based on perspiration, innovation, risk and reward. That’s when we can once again appreciate simple pleasures and discover that it is “He with the most joys lives,” and not “He with the most toys lives.” And perhaps only when the power of love overcomes the love of power can we finally get back on the yellow brick road to real prosperity, real peace and real fulfillment. Indeed, the best things in life are free, and all you have to do is recognize it.
2. Entertainment galore
The Royal Wedding, American Idol, Dancing With The Stars And 7 Other Ways That The American People Are Being Distracted From Our Real Problems
Have you caught “royal wedding fever” yet? The union of Prince William and Kate Middleton is already being called “the wedding of the century” and it will almost certainly be the most watched event in the entire world this year. The mainstream media is spending endless hours covering every conceivable angle of this wedding. With all of the hype surrounding this wedding, you would almost be tempted to think that America has now officially adopted British royalty as our own. Worship and adoration of the royal family is at a fever pitch in the United States right now, which is kind of ironic considering the fact that we fought two wars against the tyranny of that monarchy. If only George Washington and the boys could see us now. Sadly, the American people love to be entertained and they are very easily distracted from the very real problems facing this nation. In past years, celebrities such as OJ Simpson, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears dominated the news. Today Americans are distracted by the royal wedding, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. In our entertainment-addicted society, the time for average Americans to set aside the distractions and focus on real issues never seems to come.
During the decline of ancient Rome, average citizens were kept occupied with “bread and circuses”. Today, we are kept occupied with a dizzying array of entertainment options. Millions of Americans have become so addicted to entertainment that they literally cannot stand to be alone in their homes without some form of entertainment going on in the background.
Amazingly, the average American now watches 34 hours of television a week. That doesn’t even count all of the hours that we spend watching DVDs or going to the movies.
When most of us get into our vehicles we immediately turn on the radio or put on a CD. Artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are national heroes.
In the United States today, 88 percent of all children between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games. Millions of them spend so many hours playing video games that they have developed very serious health and social problems.
On top of everything else, tens of millions of Americans are absolutely addicted to the Internet. It has gotten so bad that “Internet addiction recovery programs” have started popping up all over the United States.
We love to be entertained. We love to be distracted. We love to have fun.
Unfortunately, what most of us don’t like is to focus on real issues.
#1 The Royal Wedding – It is being projected that a whopping 2 billion people around the globe will watch the royal wedding. Women all over the globe are breathlessly anticipating that first glimpse of Kate Middleton’s dress. Isn’t she just lovely? Don’t they make such a charming couple? For many Americans, this will be the most important event of the year.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs at an absolutely astounding pace. Millions of good jobs are being sent overseas and unemployment in the United States is rampant. In fact, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
As a result of these ongoing changes, the U.S. economy will very soon no longer be the biggest economy in the world. Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy, but now China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016 according to the IMF.
#2 American Idol – Who is going to win American Idol this year? Will it be country singer Scotty McCreery? Will it be rocker James Durbin? Will the southern charm of Lauren Alaina take her over the top? It has been a wonderful year for American Idol and the American people can’t seem to get enough of this new crop of stars.
Meanwhile, the average American family is really struggling to deal with soaring costs for food and gas. In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte Consulting, 74 percent of Americans said that they planned to slow down their spending in coming months due to rising prices.
#3 Dancing With The Stars – Chris Jericho got eliminated from Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday night. He certainly gave it his best shot. Let’s have a moment of silence as we remember his journey on the show.
Meanwhile, the U.S. housing crisis just continues to get worse. Home prices continue to fall with no end in sight. There just are not many qualified buyers out there right now. During the first three months of this year, less new homes were sold in the U.S. than in any three month period ever recorded.
#4 Justin Bieber – Did you know that you can get a Justin Bieber singing toothbrush now? It’s true! Now you can have Justin Bieber with you even while you are brushing your teeth. Did you also know that Justin Bieber was just named one of the top 100 most influential people by Time Magazine? Life is really sweet right now if you are Justin Bieber.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy declines some of our greatest cities are being transformed into hellholes. In the city of Detroit today, there are over 33,000 abandoned houses, 70 schools are being permanently closed down, the mayor wants to bulldoze one-fourth of the city and you can literally buy a house for one dollar in the worst areas.
All over the nation social services are being cut back and teachers are being fired. Just this week, authorities in Philadelphia announced that 3,820 school employees will likely be laid off. That number includes 12 percent of all the public school teachers in Philadelphia. Other areas of the country are making much deeper cuts.
#5 The NFL Draft – The NFL Draft is this weekend! Will Cam Newton be the number one overall pick? Will the Denver Broncos trade the second pick? Will Mel Kiper lose his temper and start yelling at the camera again? If you love the NFL, this is a great weekend for you.
Meanwhile, the U.S. health care industry has become a giant money making scam. The chairman of Aetna, the third largest health insurance company in the United States, brought in a staggering $68.7 million during 2010. Ron Williams exercised stock options that were worth approximately $50.3 million and he raked in an additional $18.4 million in wages and other forms of compensation. The funny thing is that he left the company and didn’t even work the whole year.
While corporate fat cats are raking in massive amounts of money, average Americans are having a very hard time dealing with healthcare costs. One study found that approximately 41 percent of working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt. Obamacare is not going to help this one bit.
#6 The Sony PlayStation Crisis – For millions of video game addicts, the biggest news in the world right now is that Sony’s PlayStation Network has been down for 11 straight days. According to Reuters, it might cost credit card companies somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million dollars to replace all of the credit cards that were compromised. Many video game addicts have been traumatized as they have been forced to step away from their consoles long enough to rediscover the “real world”.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is involved in three wars in the Middle East with no end in sight. It is becoming extremely expensive for us to continue to be the police of the world. The United States already accounts for 46.5% of all military spending on the globe. China is next with only 6.6%.
#7 Lady Gaga – Lady Gaga made headlines all over the world recently when she released a song entitled “Judas” just before the recent holidays. In the song, the phrase “I love Judas” is repeated over and over and over. Lady Gaga also says that Judas is the “demon she clings to” in the song. But instead of this resulting in national outrage, Lady Gaga has more fans than ever and she is considered a national hero.
Meanwhile, the Japanese nuclear crisis continues to get worse and the Japanese economy is showing signs of seriously falling apart. Radiation levels at Fukushima have now risen to the highest levels yet recorded. Some scientists are even concerned that significant areas of northern Japan could end up uninhabitable as a result of this crisis. At the same time, Standard and Poor’s is warning that the cost of rebuilding Japan could hit 50 trillion yen. They have also downgraded the outlook for Japanese government debt from “stable” to “negative”.
#8 Michael Scott Leaves The Office – Are you going to watch Steve Carell’s final episode of The Office tonight? I sure will be. The Office is one of the last great television comedies. It is going to be the end of an era. Television will never be the same again.
Meanwhile, the student loan debt bubble just continues to get worse by the day. The cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent since 1978. The total amount of student loan debt in the United States is rapidly closing in on a trillion dollars, and millions upon millions of young Americans are being absolutely crushed by devastating debt loads.
#9 The New Harry Potter Movie – Are all of you Harry Potter fans getting excited? A new trailer and some new photos from the upcoming film have been released. Thanks to the Harry Potter franchise, we have millions of young boys and girls that love to pretend to be witches and wizards. More young people than ever are fascinated by “magic” and interest in witchcraft in the United States has never been higher.
Meanwhile, U.S. government debt has soared well past 14 trillion dollars and the U.S. dollar is dying. Standard & Poor’s has altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and is warning that the U.S. could soon lose its AAA rating. Millions of our young people can tell you all about Harry Potter, but very few of those same young people are able to adequately describe what the Federal Reserve is or how money is created in this country.
#10 Facebook – Today, Facebook has over 500 million users. It has become a worldwide phenomenon. Tens of millions of Americans are totally addicted. One study conducted by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research found that 39% of American adults are self-described “Facebook addicts” and that one-third of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 “check Facebook first thing in the morning, even before brushing their teeth or going to the bathroom.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. is becoming more of a “Big Brother police state” every single day. At one public school in the Chicago area, children have been banned from bringing their lunches from home. A former Miss America was recently reduced to tears after her private areas were repeatedly touched during one of the new “enhanced pat-downs” that the Obama administration has implemented at U.S. airports. The sad truth is that we are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave.
When will the American people overcome their addiction to entertainment and wake up to the horrible things that are going on all around us?
End of Survival manual/2. Social issues/Death by 1000 cuts/Modern Living: Part I of V: The American Dream & Entertainment Galore