According to Wikipedia, “The American Dream, sometimes in the phrase “Chasing the American Dream,” is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success.”
Unfortunately there has been a significant focus on the materialistic attributes of that definition, “My status is determined by my possessions, therefor we should have more stuff.” In order to have more stuff, products had to become cheaper. And it seems the pursuit of materials has resulted in degradation of the family unit, degradation of our actions aligning with our values, and decreased safety. Now it seems we care more about buying more stuff, as cheaply as possible, then about how the production of those items affects the environment, the welfare of the workers producing those items, and resulting affects our own well being. The Walmart slogan “Save Money, Live Better” is completely backwards.
Places like Walmart (and a long list of similar big box stores) create a downward spiral of the quality of life we experience. They do not build up our lives as their commercials would have you believe. Good quality products cost money to ensure the product is safe, that the workers in the farms, the factories, and at the stores can earn a decent wage, and that the product has the least impact on the environment. Quality products last longer, therefor costing less in the long run. Even when the product requires future maintenance, that effort provides a job for someone in your local community and reduces the amount of waste going into a landfill.
The American Dream should be about improving the quality of life of the society, and improving the opportunity for all who strive to accomplish their dreams, without hurting others. What if we change our focus in the pursuit of the “American Dream” to support others in achieving their dreams? What if all 312 million people in the U.S. identified one thing they would like to improve in our society, and started working to achieve that change?
I guess we start by first denying the lies told by the retail industry. And by starting with one change at a time to achieve something we believe in.