I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog What is the American Dream?

Today we have those who seek to tear down America’s heritage by vandalizing and destroying memorials to those who went before. But while some have torn down statues memorializing those who fought in the South during the Civil War, now what is coming down are memorials to President Lincoln who ended slavery. These thugs and American born terrorists are also destroying statues to African American heroes. Many committing these crimes want to destroy America, others are simply ignorant of American history and what the American Dream is all about.

Before America there were individuals and groups who wanted to simply live and worship without undue government influence. Those who held views that differed from the “approved” government religion often found their families broken up when members of the family were jailed or even hung or burned at the stake. Then they heard about a land across the ocean and they began to dream.

These persecuted people groups felt called to the new land. Groups pooled resources, others sold all they had for passage to the new world known only to sailors and merchants. Pilgrims and Puritans and others came and settled into the new world. Regardless of the work involved, regardless of losing loved ones, they built homes in the new world where they worshipped in peace, accepting personal responsibility for their choices, and were involved in the governance of their settlement.

While some of the settlers did not get along with the natives found in America, others such as the Pilgrims hashed out a mutual beneficial treaty that lasted 50 years. Other settlers followed, dreaming of freedom of choice and faith, dreaming of a place to build homes and a future. While many early and later immigrants came to worship in freedom, others simply wanted new opportunities or to escape dictatorial governments.

When the American government became a reality, the core of the America Dream was “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Dream was about faith, freedom and family on a solid foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics and principles of honesty, morality and hard work.

The American government system turned the usual method of governing on its head, making citizens the masters who chose their own leaders and got rid of those leaders who did not govern for “the will of the people.” As citizens got comfortable and government grew, those in government accumulated more power, leaving less for citizens. Still, we vote for our local, state and federal representatives, senators and presidents.

In the 1950’s the American Dream became owning a house (not a mansion) with a white picket fence in a nice neighborhood with a church and school, a place safe for raising a family and where a person could have a job to support the family.

Even though America is no longer the “land of the free and the home of the brave” it once was, even with all the turmoil, mainly from those whose hatred and/or ignorance of the truth about America’s past—and some of these work in the media or in government jobs, America still offers more individual freedom and opportunities than most other countries. This is why so many still seek to come to these shores—to make their own American Dream come true.

(C) 2020 Carolyn R Scheidies

Kearney Hub column 9/15/2020
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