"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The American Dream -- is it worth the cost?

I watched a documentary on HBOGO, named "American Winter".  It was filmed in my new favorite place, Portland, Oregon.  It highlighted the problem of the new homeless in Portland -- as well as across America.

It isn't Portland that's to blame, it's many things. They chose Portland because it was easy to find folks there who have never had a problem supporting themselves and their families before, but usually due to a job layoff, found themselves in dire financial situations. Very interesting video --

One of the most often repeated phrases in the documentary is "The American Dream."

Unless I have totally misunderstood this concept, the American Dream is the ability to get a college degree, a high paying job, a nice home, nice cars, college education for all the kids and the ability to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, including dining out, nice clothes, fun toys, vacations, plus the security of health insurance and retirement benefits -- and the freedom to seek all that stuff.

But -- every single thing listed in the American Dream is expensive -- and when we buy it, we make some one else wealthier.

Colleges are BIG BUSINESS. And they depend on each and every American to buy into the American Dream -- and now it seems having that expensive college education guarantees nothing for many people. A lot of folks graduate with crippling debt from student loans -- all because the upper echelon has convinced Americans that they are entitled to a college education because THEY NEED YOU to spend that money -- and they don't care if your credit is ruined because you can't find a job and so can't re-pay those loans.

Our economy depends on every American buying into the American Dream.   We are encouraged to buy homes we can not afford to live in -- if one -- let alone both breadwinners were to lose their job. And guess what folks? The bank who loaned you the money to buy that house, was fully aware that if just one of you were to lose your job, you wouldn't be able to make the payments. They don't care. The plan has always been to evict you, take the house and sell it to someone else if you fall on hard times. And every single penny you have put into that house is gone. Not to mention your self esteem and sense of worth. Who feels good about themselves when they can't pay their mortgage and has to move their families into Mama's house?

If we can't keep up our end of these often lopsided deals, we are useless to them.

The Powers-That-Be have convinced Americans for a long time now that in order to be "respectable" we have to have everything listed in the American Dream, and now we not only need to have it all but we need to have the most expensive version of house car education, clothes, shoes we can get our hands on. And every time we increase our debt load, they get richer.

Take the car, for  example.  It was not invented as a status symbol.  It was invented to make travel easier and faster, but now many people who have swallowed the ideals of the American Dream hook line and sinker, actually judge the "good enough-ness" of those around them by the car they drive.

When I was working in that last place, our customers were high dollar folks -- top drawer people -- so to speak. Honesty was seldom used in the same sentence with most their names -- but no one in that circle cared because "she drives a Lexus" or some other car that costs more than many people make in two years working a full time job.

Few of us have any training in how to be happy. We look at "stuff" that others have that seems to make them happy and we think if we had that job house car money, we'd be happy too. According to Deepak Chopra and the folks involved in the Science of Positive Psychology, that method isn't very effective. It leaves empty spaces that need to be filled -- so we buy more stuff -- and enjoy it for a little while. Then we want something else -- because things don't make us happy -- not for long.  It is our connections to ourselves, each other and our Creator that bring long term happiness and peace.

And the whole time we are buying "stuff" to fill those "empty spaces", we are contributing to the wealth of someone else.

But what if we jumped off their band wagon? What if we stopped buying into the American Dream at least not to the extent we do now? What if - en masse -- we realized that happiness is a point of view, a moment to moment decision?  What if we as a nation began to appreciate the idea of "less stuff and less stress"?

What would happen if we realized that in buying into the American Dream, we let someone else define who we are?

What would happen if all of a sudden everyone were to realize they deserve better than this slavery we have tied ourselves into by caring so much what other people think about us, about what we said, what we do, what brand clothes we wear, if we're too fat or too thin, if we have wrinkles or if everyone knows we had a face lift?

The only reason anything is valuable is because humans believe it is. Gold and silver are metals taken from the Earth. They aren't "precious" because of anything other than thousands of years ago, someone convinced someone else that they were valuable -- and our troubled economic systems were born.

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