In a restaurant just around the corner from the Optic hangs a picture of John and Jacqueline Kennedy sitting on a boat of some sort, laughing and looking so happy, so carefree, that it’s hard to believe they really existed. Eating lunch at a table across from this picture, I began to think about the American dream.
What exactly is the American dream? I asked a few friends this morning and the answers I got back were pretty standard: a house with a two-car garage and a white picket fence, a beautiful wife and money in the bank. It seems that the American dream is simply to be successful, to live in an upper-class neighborhood and eat apple pies while watching baseball.
But that can’t be all there is to it. How can something as big as the American dream depend solely on the greenness of your front lawn or the neighborhood you live in? Can it really be all about money and power and owning a red convertible?
I don’t think it’s about these things and I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary for me to say so. I believe the American dream is about what we think these things represent. It’s about a feeling. It’s about striving to be as happy and carefree as the Kennedys look in that photo. Of course, it’s only a snapshot; no one can be that happy all the time. But we can dare to dream that our lives will be full of the sort of moments that we will look back on with the same feeling we get from looking at a picture of the Kennedys sitting on a boat and laughing.
There are 300 million people in the United States. How can one version of how things could turn out represent the dreams of so many people? It’s my opinion that the American Dream is different for almost everyone, because everyone has a different idea of what will make him or her happy. For some, it’s small towns, apple pie, and baseball. For some, it’s being able to freely express opinions and ideas. It is anything you want it to be. It is anything that contributes to your particular sense of well-being. It is anything that makes you feel content, carefree and happy to be where you are.
Jazzmine Freedom, a Robertson High School senior, is an intern with the Las Vegas Optic.