The Real Issue: Greed or the American Dream?

History has shown us that people, in times, will reshape a nation just like our founding fathers. Our fathers before us left a nation that led its people into a time of turmoil, to come to what we know as America. This country was founded on the principle of the American Dream. But, for many years now the American Dream has been lost, only to be driven and replaced by greed.

In Edmund Burke’s speech on conciliation with America said, “By adverting to the dignity of this high calling our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire, and have made the most extensive and the only honorable conquests – not by destroying but by promoting the wealth, the number, the happiness of the human race.”

In the progression from the American Dream to the principle of greed, it may help to define the two. Wikipedia defines the American Dream as a “belief in the freedom that allows all citizens and residents of the United States to achieve their goals in life through hard work.” They define greed as,”the desire to aquire beyond the needs of the individual, especially when this accumulation of possession is the selfish desire for or pursuit of money, wealth, power, or other possessions.”

For many years, the American Dream is what separated this nation from others. This idea is what has drawn so many people to America. The simple idea that one could achieve thier dreams and aspirations, whatever they may be, without protest. Now, while both the Dream and Greed require work, it is the difference in thought of why and what that work is for.

The work for the American Dream is hard work. In a famous lecture by Frederick Douglass titled Self-Made Men, he says that “there is nothing good, great or desirable. . .that does not come by some kind of labor,” namely “WORK! WORK!! WORK!!! WORK!!!!” While it does take work to satisfy our greedy desires, it is why that makes the difference.

Greed is driven by the desire to obtain in excess, while the American Dream is just the desire to obtain. On both sides of the economic turmoil facing today, that is where one needs to look. The desire to obtain in excess! That excess is monetary. Both sides were driven by greed. The banks and lending institutions were willing to do anything to loan out money, and there were many people willing to sign on the dotted line. With wanting to make a buck, these companies were told to deregulate by the government and to basically lend to all. And those who fell prey, were trying to achieve their “American Dream.”

The blame goes both ways. By those trying to achieve, and those offering. Far too many people aren’t willing to accept the blame for the mess that this nation has found itself in. The pursuit of the American Dream has led many to greed. Once a prosperous nation, now a nation in debt.

Now, revisiting what Burke said about “promoting wealth [and] the happiness of the human race.” That is synonymous with the American Dream, and also with greed. The human race is very desirous to be happy and also to increase themselves on all levels. But it is the right and the wrong with their desires.

In a debate on October 15 in 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time. . .” Although one is right in their choice to pursue the American Dream, it is wrong if that Dream is led by greed.

There is a “right and wrong” that goes along with everything, but one must know and understand the consequences with greed and how that greed can lead and overcome the Dream. Acceptance of right and wrong must be admitted from both sides, whether that be the lender or the lendee. While there is a great feeling in the accomplishment of the American Dream through hard work, there is a greater sense through which how hard that work is.

So, with all the finger pointing going on today and no one willing to accept the blame, the real issue comes down to the American Dream or GREED.

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