The American Dream - An Illusion, Part II
|Vintage greeting card|
At the time I read his autobiography, I was fully immersed in my playwriting, so this revelation made a huge impression on me. Up until then, I was a very hard worker who didn't spend much time examining why I was one. I just worked hard on the assumption that that was what you had to do in order to "arrive". And arriving held the promise of something - something along the lines of happiness and fulfillment. Neil Simon's revelation made me realize the "Promised Land" of our culture - the happiness and security that is implied in individual achievement and personal success - is in reality a mirage in the desert.
While most people intuitively realize this is true (the unhappiness, problems, and troubled lives of many celebrities is proof of this), the relentless pursuit of this mirage continues to dominate in our culture. There is a prevailing belief that you can't be fulfilled or happy unless you are a "success" or achieve this "American Dream". This belief is so ingrained in our culture and so strongly implied in education that we feel this belief to be truth or reality, when in fact, it is a lie and an illusion.
(Julian Moody and I touched on this subject along with the shortcomings of our educational system in the topic "School Doesn’t Prepare You for Work or Life" from our project Dialogues with Julian Moody: On Life, Business, Sustainability, and Other Things.)
Other American Dream posts: