I recently watched a segment of Our America with Lisa Ling entitled “The Lost
America Dream.” In it, Ling argues that the American Dream has been lost
because middle class Americans have had to downsize their lives. There is no
arguing that our economy crashed around 2007 and its repercussions have been
felt across America. In December of 2008, America was officially declared to be
in a recession. Since then the national unemployment rate has risen to over
10%, poverty in some areas has been upwards of 15% of that population, and
millions of jobs have been lost. With statistics like these, there is no wonder
why some feel that the American Dream has been lost.
What I found interesting about this segment of Our America is that amongst the
painstaking truth, the majority of interviewed people were older middle class
Americans. While the younger interviewed people were only asked about the
future of their family as a whole, not their individual futures or the future of our generation. That is where I think the differences lies. I think we are scared, but we are also optimistic. We see the challenges our parents have faced, we worry if we will have a job once we graduate from college, and we stare forward at an uncertain future. But regardless of the dismay, I think the troubles we have witnessed and the worries we have only encourage us to achieve our American Dream. Taken as a whole, the America’s Dream is for upward mobility, economically, physically, intellectually, and as long as we are making gains, we are one step closer to achieving our dream. The fear that America faces now is a motivator for creating a better America.
The first step America must take in achieving her dream is facing her fears. As a country, we have felt fear before. When the stock market crashed in 1929 and America entered into the Great Depression, Americans knew that sacrifices would
have to be made. There was an aura of fear and question as to if we could overcome the Depression, but we made it through. On September 11, 2001, America felt fear. Because of the attack we were fearful for our lives and the safety of our seemingly protective country. But just like before, we did not let fear stop us. Rather, it acted as a catalyst and bonded the country together. Now in 2012, we are fearful again. Only once we recognize our fears and look at our past can we gain hope for the future. From there we can analyze what it will take to for America to achieve her Dream.
As Generation Next, it is our duty to paint the picture of the perfect America because we are the group that will sculpt our nation’s future. We cannot lose sight of the American Dream like so many have already. Though we may be fearful, fear is a motivator and we should not be that scared because as Lisa Ling said in Our America, “youth have time to ride [the recession] out.” This line resonated with me because we do have time on our side: time to get educated, time to make a plan, and time to change the future.