Wednesday, August 31, 2016


I ponder quite a bit about what has happened to my country, struggling to understand how we went from Kate Smith to Rosanne Barr. Though I never served in the armed forces, most of my adult life has been focused on political involvement and bringing positive change into our nation. I have fought for our country in a different way, in different battles, but I have fought with all my heart. 

And I have been profoundly shattered to see the collapse of what I thought was America. 

When our generation is long in the grave and history is written about the United States, what will it tell us about the people today? That is way too broad a question to ask on a blog. So I have narrowed it down to writing specifically about the perspective of the American Dream and my parent's generation.

How must the generation born specifically between 1935 to 1950 relate to today's America? To start, I will give some personal background.


I was born in the 1960's and have an inkling of a memory of what the late 1960's racial and  feminist struggle was like--the drug and sexual revolution. But most of my memories take place in the 1970's.

Our family had soldiers in Vietnam who came home addicted to drugs and cynical. And my childhood is peppered with memories of war protests and peace signs. 

I remember the Watergate trials and President Nixon's resigning. I remember sitting in line for gasoline when my dad was trying to get us to school and himself to work during the oil crisis.

But the sex, drugs and rock and roll culture was the environment that seeped the most effectively into my little Christian sheltered world. The context of my world was: The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, women burning their bras, riding on the city bus with the black kids in back, my fifth grade friends smoking joints after school. 

My childhood was during that strange transition of America being Leave it to Beaver

to it being All in the Family:

My age group got to see my parent's innocent and naive America briefly as it went past our back seat car window, but mostly in the rearview mirror. 

The Rockwellian Years

Our generation's parents were a part of a culture where the American Dream was God's dream. During the Golden Years of the USA during and immediately after WWII, when there was a complete conflation of religion and patriotism, church and state, America was still a place of high ideals and where even the media was still ashamed of sin. Being American meant being a good Protestant living in God's land, the shining city on a hill. It was the time that they inserted, "Under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. 

American kids were encouraged to believe that you could be anything you wanted. Be an astronaut! Be president! God supports you on your quest to be whoever you want to be and in your God-given right to pursue happiness. This is America, dream big

And now these kids who grew up watching the Lone Ranger and Father Knows Best are looking at their lives and feeling they failed. Because, let us be honest, most American's did not achieve their American Dream. I am not saying they do not have a tremendous amount to be thankful for nor am I suggesting that they didn't achieve more than most humans who have ever lived on the planet. America is full of nice homes, nice cars, and nice people. 

What I am writing is that most kids who grew up in those golden, idealized years--did not achieve what they were promised they could achieve. Most are not astronauts or millionaires or president or baseball players or hollywood stars. America cannot look back at those childhood promises and claim they came true. 

The Promise of the American Dream

A few of us born after 1955 who grew up in a very different America have done and are doing what our parents believe to be shockingly unpatriotic and even ungodly.

We have been forced to look at America realistically and ask some difficult questions. Many of us have travelled outside of our country and realize that people all over the world believe their country is the greatest and their values look very much like America's values. In fact, in some ways, these countries are doing better than we are.

It is not unpatriotic nor ungodly to be realistic.

I can hear the outcry, "Then why is everyone on earth trying to get into America then? Why so many immigrants?"

The truth is that most immigrants before the middle of the 20th century were from Europe. In the last few decades, immigrants are coming from third world countries, not to share the American Dream or the American culture, but for economic opportunities. They are not fleeing religious persecution, but are fleeing poverty. And there is nothing wrong with that. But we need to understand that these people coming today, do not plan on assimilating into the melting pot. They are not even aware of the once-
ubiquitous values of the 1950's America. They know America for its military, its drugs, Hollywood, Pokemon Go, Apple Computers and Beyonce. 

It must be devastating for a generation reared in the 1950's and early 1960's to awaken to today's America. To watch the American Dream go from the American hero: Superman and NASA's
conquering of space to getting a million hits on youtube twerking.

Time to really, prayerfully rethink the American Dream. Maybe that capitalistic, democratic ideal of pursuing happiness that was supposed to bring materialistic prosperity for all was never possible nor even right. 

Maybe the American 
 Dream isn't and never was God's dream. Perhaps God never intended people to pursue happiness but holiness. Maybe the American Dream is a deception from the Father of Lies.

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