The American Nightmare

The “American Dream” has meant many different things to many different people. To some, it is the potential that the American economy can hold. The opportunity to undertake and grow a self-started business. To others it may be the freedom that America provides. Freedom of speech, religion, press, et. cetera that so many take for granted. On the contrary, the American Dream is more than what one can gain from this country; it is what we give back. It is a fantasy where each American, despite their respective backgrounds, is treated with respect and each person returns the favor. We so often get comfortable in our own busy lives and responsibilities that we forget our roots. We often are so content in our established ways that we forget that this country was founded by vagabonds cast out from faraway places. We often are so rigid in how this county is “supposed to be” that we forget that lady liberty herself says with silent copper lips, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break free”.

It is called a dream for a reason. If our country was what we all wanted it to be, it would be called “The American Reality”. But what would it take for every American to say that this dream had indeed come true? It seems the people who claim the validity of this lofty idea have never been tired, poor, or among the huddled masses. It seems that the millions of voiceless Americans struggling to put food on the table every night would not say they believe in “The American Dream” but rather an “American Nightmare”. It seems there is an evident disconnect about our most notable ideas surrounding this country.

Respectively, there are fallacies in both extremities concerning the question of “The American Dream”. Those who claim the dream is a reality forget that this may not have been the case for them at one time. Those who have lost sight of the dream have also lost sight of what the dream entails. “The American Dream” is not being rich or successful and it is not expecting something that is rightfully owed from this country. It is the idea that a country is a sanctuary that has the potential to be just that for a person. In turn, that person will go on to help another. To take care of each other and do as much as one is able is what “The American Dream” is.

It so often seems that the people that need the most care are the very people who care the most. People who are far worse off and stuck in an American Nightmare are, by far, more kind and genuine than most of suburbia’s neighborly residents. These are the people for whom America was founded, yet they are the voices that compose a static background noise. A background noise amongst all other chaos in this country that screams, “Do we not deserve The American Dream?!”

Those who are engoulfed in the firey “American Nightmare” can find some version of relief that one day has the potential to change into their own “American Dream”. Although a nightmare can leave you awake in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, the new reality of the upcoming dawn is refreshing and welcomed. Looking back at the nightmare, it is found that it was not hair raising in the slightest. Yet, one would not wish it on anyone else.

So what does “The American Dream” really mean? It is a loaded question. This dream is a fickle one and cannot be deferred or overlooked. It means more than only supporting the government and fulfilling civic duties. It is not the hope of becoming a successful entrepreneur or merely existing in the land of the free. A verified “American Dream” is living in a country where citizens feel the necessity to look after one another. Where a fellow American helps another fellow American because we are all, at heart, just that; Americans.

As one kind heart helps another, the kindness grows and blossoms into a surreal flower. As each person who has been helped remembers just that and decides to go out and do the same, the dream starts to becomes a reality. If enough people take the first small steps to be mindful of how America has given so much to the privileged, then this country will be a truly wonderful place to live.


Food For Thought In The Endless Time Loop We Call Life

Time is not a linear concept but a never ending cycle. A circle, rather, and an endless loop

Therefore, none of our actions are able to influence the future and past selves because there is no new action in time. It has been happening endlessly for all eternity. We are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again. There is no fate or free will. The illusion of having the freedom to make choices is merely that. There is no decision to choose right or wrong and we are all bound indefinitely in a vicious cycle to make these very decisions over and over again without change.


Comments on Human Sacrifice from a Human

What is sacrifice? These days, the word itself seems outdated. It is something that we do not necessarily have anymore. One’s mind might think immediately of human sacrifice in ancient civilizations. A human sacrifice in the ancient world to me has two meanings. The sacrifice of a human and the sacrifice by a human. To brutally sacrifice a human requires everyone else to loose that person. The human not only looses their life but everyone else around them looses something as well. May that be a friend, family member, or partner. What makes a sacrifice so terrifyingly meaningful is that a person gives up something that is terrifyingly meaningful to them. This is why sacrifice has been viewed throughout centuries as the ultimate gift. The use of free will to give a respective diety what was most valued is to give something you love more than yourself to somone whom you love more than yourself.

Ancient Greek has a few words for love. It is unlike in English where there is one word for every type of love (brotherly love, maternal love, friendship love…). In Ancient Greek, the word ἀγάπη or agápē is a love that embraces universal and unconditional love. A love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance. Regardless of how much must be sacrificed.

Sacrifice not only appears in Ancient Greece. There are numerous accounts of sacrifices done for the sake of ἀγάπη. In the ancient mythology, almost every myth has some sort of sacrifice or another. In the Greek myth about the Minotaur, Theseus is sacrificed by being placed in the labrynth with the Minotaur himself. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is sacrificed on the cross in order to eternally cleanse the sins of all humans. Today the symbol of the cross signifies suffering but also triumph. Mesoamericans, specifically the Aztecs, were known well for their practice of human sacrifice. It is no new concept but yet it seems universal. Almost every culture can be connected to some form of sacrifice at some point in time or another.

A sacrifice does not have to be tangible though. It can be an idea or way of life. In an age where human sacrifice is illegal, it is rare even to find such a sacrifice that is idealistic. This may be because of a steady decline in religious practices but I believe it is because of fear. It is common for a person, when contemplating this word and its circumstances, to be afraid. Afraid that something will be taken from them or afraid that they will have to live without something that is “essential” to them. Those who view sacrifice as merely a loss are those who have never truly sacrificed. This fear is what makes it so valuable and so extraordinary as well as scary. Sacrifice is a gamble.  The gamble of the value of the sacrifice brings value to our lives through that very pain and suffering. Something is lost but something is, in turn, gained. When a person truly loves enough to sacrifice for someone they love more than themselves, it is not a sacrifice. It is a gift.


Adulthood And A Small Plastic Human

In preschool, I had a friend named Guitardi. That’s    Guh-tar-dee. She was a baby doll so big that she was bigger than a guitar, hence the name. I used to take Guitardi around with me everywhere. Throw her here, toss her there. Guitardi slouched over on the swing. Guitardi stuck deep in mud in the garden. Many days were spent this way. Eventually, I got a new doll to replace Guitardi. My mother threw my tattered doll away and I thought nothing of it. In more recent years, I have looked back on my friend Guitardi and, questioning her whereabouts, interrogated my mother. When I heard the news of her death many years ago, I was crushed. My poor Guitardi alone in the trash.

As children, we can’t help but be a little bit selfish. It’s not bad, we can’t control it. It’s just the way we know to be true before we are taught how to care for others. Either it’s staring at that one different looking kid at the park or grabbing for the best crayons at the coloring table. We’ve all been there whether we know it or not. Adults, however, are different. Though some may not show it, they are aware and have empathy for others and their relationships with them. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles. This is the psychological event that separates childhood and adulthood; being able to care, respect, and think about others instead of oneself. This transition is much like my feelings for my discarded friend. I had always cared about Guitardi but not enough to question where she had gone when my mother threw her in the trash. When I started to question and think about others, whether plastic or not, I had started to become my own person. An adult person.

Childhood interactions are fleeting and irrelevant. Ignorance is bliss as a little boy plays without hesitation in the sandbox with a little girl he’ll never see again. The adult relationship is more permanent and momentous. The business partners, bosses, clients, employees. The adult relationship is not something that can be built up in one day playing in the sand. The adult relationship is not something to be thrown in the trash and mindlessly replaced. The adult relationship is not to go unnoticed when it is deep in the mud beside you. While reflecting on Guitardi pinpointed a spot in my life when I became aware of others’ feelings, it also marked when I became conscious of the importance of a strong relationship. I had never appreciated the bond between my big baby doll and I when I had her, nor when I was given my new doll to replace her. Only in looking back on all the good times we had, did I discover the admiration that I had for Guitardi. It still amazes me how a single, small, plastic human has influenced me so much throughout my life.


How To Be A Hammer Rather Than A Nail

As a child, I was always told by my parents that I could do and be anything I wanted to be. Back then I figured that meant a doctor or a policewoman or some corporate business lady. Often times I find that people tend to think about their lives in this manner. What is our individual purpse and role in society? People asking these types of deeper meaning questions seek a superficial answer. The answer to this question is different than what many believe to be true. Being what you want in the world is not all about the profession. Being, existing, living requires a deeper answer.

The greatest advice that anyone has ever given to me was given by a former teacher; “Be bold,” he said. That advice has taken me a long way. Confidence, as I have found, is the greatest thing you can be. Rather than being a doctor or a policewoman or some corporate business lady, simply be bold. There are two types of people in the world. There are hammers and there are nails. The nails are the people that go through their life just “being” what they want to be through their ideal job. They are the people that never rise up to their full potential. Nails are the people always being overshadowed by the hammers. Now hammers are the people who know who they are and seize the opportunity. They know how to truly live their lives to the fullest through confidence. When you choose the path that your life takes, think about the hammers and the nails of the world. Which one are you? Who will you be? Go forth and be bold relentlessly. Be confident and don’t look back.