I am not a professor. I am not a historian. I am not an anthropologist. I am not an economist. I am simply an American citizen. I am growing increasingly more aware of the system in which I have become desensitized to and I am seeing this ugly picture unfold daily to an exponential degree. In the richest country in the world, one might assume that issues such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, poor health care, or debt would not be able to exist. Welcome to my country. Along my journey, I have seen one side of the coin in real life and the other side of the coin through the media. I will let you make that distinction on your own. The picture is becoming more and more clear that for some to live the American Dream others have to live the American Nightmare.
There is an accepted belief that people who work hard are the ones that make all of the money. As a result, logic says that people that don’t have money are the ones that aren’t working hard. In my lifetime, I have experienced the exact opposite. I have seen people work multiple jobs for years upon years and barely be able to afford the essentials. I have also seen people that can literally live the rest of their lives on vacation if they choose and never have a worry in the world. Cue in the American Nightmare.
The nightmare doesn’t come from having to work hard because I wouldn’t argue that rich people don’t work hard. I would argue that through their privilege they have been educated on how to work hard mentally and not physically. The nightmare comes from working hard and not being able to afford basic health care for your child. The nightmare comes from having to work overtime and neglecting your family’s needs just so they can have a roof over their head. The nightmare lies within the idea that working hard will get you into that rich fraternity where you can now rest at ease knowing that your family will be taken care of and your future isn’t up in the air as long as you work yourself down to the bone. Cue in the American Dream.
The American Dream is a beautiful thing. This is where you can live in a nice neighborhood, own your own house, eat healthy, have leisure time to spend with your family, invest, and experience the things that money can offer. This place does exist. But it only exists for a certain group of people and it has nothing to do with the amount of hard work that is factored into the equation. The main factor in being able to live the American Dream is that someone else has to live the American Nightmare. Take a second and place yourself in this scenario. Imagine the life that you are living and think of the person that is either living the dream thanks to you or is living the nightmare to enable you. The problem lies within our economic policies that ignore our extreme inequality and the problems we will face if we remain ignorant to it.