The American dream: Intelligence not required

When people refer to “the American dream” it conjures the age old American hyperbole “The streets are paved with gold.” We all may wish that this were true but sadly that isn’t the case. So what is the American Dream?

Iconic American. Photo from Creative Commons.

To most of us, it’s getting a house with a white picket fence in the suburbs, having kids, a 9-to-5 job, and — in short — the typical middle-class lifestyle. After the Internet bubble, the housing bubble, wall street bubble and the kid on the corner’s bubbles all bursting, to me the American dream means just being comfortable and being happy. The American dream to me means that an immigrant from the war-torn Middle East can come, live better than most of the rest of the world, become a citizen, and allow their children to be given opportunities that are impossible in most of the world.

The American dream isn’t founded on wealth, social status or intelligence. It’s built entirely upon hard work. To borrow from Darwinism, survival isn’t based on who is the strongest or who is the smartest, but who can most adapt to their environment. Our current environment was made through hard work, so to survive you must work hard. This is why third and fourth generation immigrants look to their grandparents with reverence, because they were the successful ones who worked hard and it paid off.

While this is significantly easier with intelligence, money in the bank or high social status, achieving something great is possible for anyone as long as they work for it. The dream wasn’t meant to be a promise; it’s never guaranteed that you will be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar business and it’s easy to run a business into the ground during your first attempt. If you go through your life and try your best at all that you do, and don’t give up after one or two failures, I can safely say that you will be successful in this great nation of ours.

Those that came before us solidified that for you and me. Our success is built on their hard work, and future generations will be built on ours. Technology doesn’t invent itself, buildings don’t rise up out of the ground and all of the intricacies of inter-nation commerce don’t happen by being left alone. It’s up to us, the American people, to make our dreams come true. Pain is weakness leaving the body, and work is just dreams coming to life.