Materialism and The American Dream
The American Dream started out as a dream of freedom. A dream of equal opportunity for all. A dream of a better life through hard work. A dream of being an individual. A dream of liberty.
The American Dream transformed into a dream to improve quality of life for the greatest number possible. A dream of safety. A dream of healthy futures. A dream to spread our ideals of freedom across the globe.
The American Dream then became a dream of education. A dream of the best schools in the world. A dream of the brightest students in a classroom, intelligent eyes intently watching a teacher scrawl the day’s lesson on the blackboard. A dream of the best for the children, the future of America.
But what has become of that dream? What are the people of America looking for now?
As I look upon the sad, consumerist society I live in, it is clear. The dream is no longer a dream of equality. The dream is no longer a dream of being an individual. The dream is no longer even a dream of a better life. The dream is now focused on only one thing: material goods. People want nothing more than to live life as portrayed in the movies, with the fastest cars, the shiniest jewelry, and the newest technology. The media has defined the American Dream simply as “getting stuff.” The people with the greatest amount of material wealth are the happiest, they say. And the worst part is, working hard for that material wealth became rather unnecessary. People simply bought everything with credit. As people spent money they didn’t have on things they didn’t need, they fell deeper and deeper into debt. The people looked everywhere for someone to blame, passing the blame around from the president, to the top 1%, to Wall Street. They failed to place the blame where it often belonged: to themselves. The people could not take responsibility for their own carelessness.
Now, people strive to live like movie stars. People want fame and fortune, and they believe that that is what the American Dream is all about. The dream has shifted from improving life through hard work to a dream of becoming wealthy without doing much at all. It has made us into a lazy, entitled group of people who take everything for granted.
We cannot allow such thinking to overcome us. The nation is obsessed with the accumulation of things and convinced that somehow, buying that new dress will make one happier. Advertisements everywhere try to persuade us that owning those shoes or that handbag will make us happier. Somehow, we came to believe that our worth was measured by the amount of stuff we have. Somehow, we came to believe that we need designer handbags and automatic toothpaste dispensers. Somehow, we came to believe that buying more things will make us happier. But it won’t.
Material possessions will not last forever. The satisfaction from buying that new car will only last a moment, until the next new car comes along, faster than the first. There will always be something better out there.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that no matter how many shiny new toys we buy for ourselves, we never seem to get any happier. We spend so much time dreaming of the new things we can buy thinking that those things will make us happier. But they won’t.
The American Dream is now a dream of extravagant wealth. A dream of fame. A dream of owning the biggest house. A dream of having all of the latest technology. A dream of owning nice cars, the newest gaming systems, and the fastest computers. America is one of the most materialistic countries in the world, and this greed will ruin us all.