Thursday, June 09, 2005

Pitfalls of the Great American Dream

In an article about class in literature in the NY Times (where else?), I found this quote:

"What persists is the great American theme of longing, of wanting something more, or other, than what you were born with - the wish not to rise in class so much as merely to become classy."

And that is, after all, what America is all about, isn't it? The desire to get ahead, to better ourselves in some way or another. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but somewhere in that yearning to get ahead lies a dissatisfaction - even a disgust - for what one has, what one is in the present. The American Dream is a wish to escape what one is for something more glamorous, more classy, better.

And while I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to better oneself or one's conditions, I do think there is something inherently wrong with that constant, nagging sense of disgust with what you are and who you are. There is something wrong with always wanting more and never being content or satisfied with what you have.

"Who is happy? One who is satisfied with his lot."


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