“What are you most proud of in America today?”
That’s the question I posed on Facebook a few days ago for 4th of July musing. Every response was lovely, from bacon to the Bill of Rights, marines to farmers, but the following are really telling.
“I am proud…
…that I am not property.
…that I don’t have to bribe anyone to conduct business.
…that I’m not jailed for my opinion.
…that I don’t have to hide my valuables from the police.
…that I am a woman and I can drive across the US by myself in a car I bought by myself.
…that I can choose my work and achieve my dream.”
That I can achieve my dream.
In India, caste has historically determined career. For the low-caste, that might mean cleaning feces off latrine floors by hand. Talk about a dream killer. In Saudi Arabia, if you’re a woman, your dreams are limited compared to a man’s. (The World Economic Forum‘s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 141 out of 144 countries for gender parity.) In North Korea, I’m guessing most people don’t even dare to dream.
I’ve not been to Saudi Arabia or North Korea, but I have been to India and I love it for many reasons. So I’m not nation-bashing, just stating some realities and making the point that being born in America puts us way ahead on the dream curve. My friends in India can’t understand why we complain about anything. After all, we can go to any faucet and draw clean water any time, whether we’re rich or poor. Schools are free and education is compulsory. This wasn’t the case in India until eight years ago (2009 Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act). And most of us can afford an occasional movie. Indian kids in villages entertain themselves playing cricket with a stick and a rock.
(We could talk about the merits of our kids learning to love life with only a stick and a rock, but you get my point.)
Are you living the dream? Do you have running water in your home? Can you read this? Can you vote? Drive? Do you live on more than $1.25 a day?
As Americans, we’re all living the dream. We can honor the dream by being grateful. We can share it as widely as possible by being generous. It’s a really sweet dream.