Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The American Dream

In President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech, he told Americans to know no bounds. He told them that they choose their own destinies when he said ‘We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win’. People have choices. They choose their aspirations and they choose their fates and anyone who says they don’t simply isn’t trying hard enough. Maybe it’s their inspirational leaders, maybe it’s the kudos which comes with being a part of the world’s biggest superpower, but Americans have something we most certainly do not. I’ll call it a ‘can-do’ attitude; the central component of the American Dream.

In Britain, we are downcast. When people achieve success, we are envious. When we spend our days in a job we aren’t particularly fond of, we get depressed. And when ideas crop up, we are not willing to try them for fear of change. This is the British diagnosis. We don’t see people with things we want and say “Hey, I’m going to work hard so I can have one of those one day”. We don’t strive forward in order to get promoted into a job we love and we don’t try new things cos “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. What we don’t see is that hope, in this country, is a broken concept. We need to learn from the Americans, and gauge inspiration from our western counterparts.

A most important lesson can be learned from Maurice in the film Coming to America: "Oh yeah, I started out mopping the floor just like you guys. Then I moved up to washing lettuce. Now, I'm working the fat fryer. Pretty soon I'll make assistant manager and that's when the big bucks start rolling in." Looking to the future is central; whilst now might not look great, we forget that it is us who will decide whether things stay like this forever or move onwards and upwards. This attitude is the reason why America made it to the moon before anyone else, and the reason why you always get a friendly “You’re welcome” in MacDonalds. They can dream. And they act on their dreams. In this country we don’t like hard graft, and we don’t see why we should have to do it. That’s why we never get anywhere. There is an enormous sense of entitlement here, but what needs to be realised is that the world doesn’t owe us anything. As JFK said, Americans “intend to win”, and we haven’t even begun the race yet.

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