In Response To The American Dream

This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure. Winston Churchill

What is the American Dream?

According to Wikipedia,

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

In suburban America where I live, the American Dream is all about having a bigger house, fancier cars, a larger retirement nest egg, a vacation home at the shore, a well-paying corporate job, and a top-notch school district.

I’m not saying these are bad things to have, but what if our focus is misguided?

While it doesn’t say it in the definition given by Wikipedia, it seems to imply that the American Dream is about ease and comfort.

I like ease.  I like it when things go together easily.  I like it when our family is healthy.  I like it when there is peace and harmony.  And I like comfort.  I like my comfortable king-sized bed and my leather recliner.  I like my warm house in the winter and my cool house in the summer.  I like knowing I can go to my refrigerator at any time and get a cold glass of milk whenever I want.  These are some of the things that give me comfort.

What if ease and comfort is the wrong target?

I was playing Frisbee golf with a few of my co-workers at lunch the other day.  This is a great way for me to connect with some of the younger guys in my office.  It also gives me the opportunity to step away from my desk for a few minutes in the middle of the day.  These guys set up a twelve-hole course behind our office.  Light poles, trees, fire hydrants, and signs are used as the goals.  At the start of each hole, you aim towards the desired target as you release the Frisbee.  On one of the first days I was playing with my co-workers, I didn’t get the directions right.  When I released the Frisbee it flew straight and far, and it even hit the light pole.  The problem is that it was the wrong light pole.  If I had been listening a little better, I would have known to go for the correct light pole.  I would have aimed at the right target.

In the game of Frisbee golf, it’s not that big of a deal if we aren’t aiming at the right target.  Frisbee golf is just a game, and there is always time to recover before the next hole.  Aiming for the wrong target is a big deal when it comes to life.

In life, we have many things that distract us or wrongly direct us when it comes to keeping our eyes on the right target.  We chase after fame and fortune instead of the things that really matter.

Jesus tells his followers in Matthew 22:36-40, to love your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  This should be our target.  When we put God first and look after our neighbors, we are putting our sights on the correct target.

If you live in America like me, you are most likely in the top one or two percent of the world as far as wealth and possessions.  I know we like to pick on the billionaires in the world for their life of luxury and their failure to contribute their “fair share” to help those less fortunate.  To 98% of the world, you and I are just like those billionaires.  We live a life of luxury, and we fail to contribute our “fair share” to help those less fortunate.  As Americans, we rarely see the lack of comfort or the life of pain that most people in the world experience – we are spoiled.

We don’t get it.  We are complacent to chase after the misguided targets we’ve set.

He who wins with the most toys doesn’t win; he dies.

Noted Eastern University sociologist, Tony Campolo, conducted a survey of fifty people over the age of 95.  Each of the survey participants was asked this question:  “If you had to do life over again, what would you do differently?”  Overwhelmingly, the results showed that people would risk more, reflect more, and do more to leave a legacy after they were gone.  They didn’t mention comfort or ease in their responses.

If we don’t make changes now, we will be answering this question in the exact same way when we reach the end of our lives.  I don’t know about you, but I want to answer the question differently.  As Winston Churchill said, it’s time to dare and endure.  Stop chasing after ease and comfort.

Now is the time to make a change.

Now is the time to redirect your focus to the right target.

Now is the time to establish a mission mindset – to put God first and to love others with everything we’ve got.

What are you chasing?  How does your pursuit of the American Dream cloud your vision for a life best lived?  Are you aiming at the right target?