Monday, August 30, 2010

Losing Home

Introduction: The following is an exchange between myself and one of my students; I will call him “Mr. C” for this post.   In this discussion, I had asked my students to explain to me how they define and experience the American Dream as it is traditionally presented: the economic image of success of a family, house with white picket fence, 2.5 children, 2 cars and yearly vacations. During this discussion, I had also explained how I now related to the American Dream and understand this dream as a Myth. I call for redefinition of the dream. ____________________ Rebecca McCarthy:
Class, some of the ideas we have looked at in class (Freedom, happiness, morality, and stereotypes) are difficult concepts because there is no real way to concretely define these ideas. Yet, we tend to assume that we all hold the same general understanding of the terms and concepts. The same is true for the "American Dream."
I often hear from students and even political hopefuls that this American Dream is defined through a job that makes 60K plus a year, a house, a picket fence, keeping up with the Jones while having 2.5 children (our national average). I have been told that we WILL get this dream by working really hard! But why should this be the American dream? When was this dream thought up anyway, and by whom? Did the first settlers in this country have a different dream when all was started? What about our dreams compared to the Native Americans’ Dream? Further, what makes this dream "American," rather than simple middle-class successful in any country? My husband and I have given up on the above so called American dream. After years and years of hard work, education, and doing what we were told was the right thing to do, we still have no savings, no retirement (the market ate our small 401K), no home, no children, no full-time jobs, no benefits, and so on. The American Dream has not worked out well for us - at least not as it is defined above. So we started our adventure in our RV with the hopes that a new form of the dream might bring some satisfaction (You can follow our efforts here). How about you? How SHOULD the American dream be defined and how do you define it for yourself? How good is hard work anyway? Are we ALWAYS rewarded for hard work? Let me know what you think! Rebecca
MR. C.:
Hello Rebecca, I must admit that when I first read your post, I was a bit saddened for your struggles and lost that you been through and I'm very sorry for them. But, I [too] have had my own share of problems [due] to the American dream that landed my family and I in a motel. See I lost my house due to [a] job lay off, and not enough income to help pay the mortgage; so, I was forced to foreclose on the house. [My family and I] went on welfare and they put us in a shelter, and we stayed there for one day due to my son being autistic. It ran him crazy being enclosed in a room like you are in prison with no TV and snacks on board, unless you go to the security office and go to the locker and get the snacks, because they do not allow food in the room, and that didn't work to well for my kids because they are a used to eating a snack [at] any time. The next day we left the shelter and moved into a motel because of my son and the conditions of the shelter were very nasty. At the time, I was working full-time so I paid for the motel for two months before the job shut down. So I went to the housing department from welfare and they paid for the motel partially while every month I have to give up my [TANF] money from welfare to pay my part for the motel. Well recently they want us to go back to the shelter because they say the motel [cost’s too] much, and they would rather pay for us to be in a house. Well the problem is its hard to find three bedrooms or four bedrooms for my family size because either they want excellent credit, or the place is not available and it's a 11\2 year wait for them. So now we are doing all we can, [my wife and I] to help get our family into a place before the deadline of the voucher [runs] out. I share this story because this whole year it really opened my eyes on how selfish our country really is when it comes down to someone in need of help when they have all the resources there and they turn you away. Especially when it come to families, they really do not want to help [families] and just think, we pay taxes for these programs and when you are in need of them, you find out what the so called American dream is. ____________
When I asked Mr. C if I could post our exchange to our blog, he said yes and followed up with this observation: Mr. C.:
I have no problem with you using my story for your new website. I am actually [delighted] that you asked because I think that that it's something that needs to be heard of, and people really need to know how people are really suffering in this economy. The good news is we moved [into] a place this week. We had welfare to finally help us out with it after I got another organization to push the issue that a shelter is no place for an autistic kid to be. I tell you these government agencies do not want to help people in great need, but I seen them help people coming in from other countries with no problems at all and that hurts me the most. My goal now is to finish my schooling and hopefully land a job as a parole officer for the youth. I want to thank you for hearing my story and please do forward any emails of responses that you do get because that will mean a lot to me to know that there are others out there listening, and knowing the truth about our economy.
The text above was edited for spelling with minimum changes in punctuation only.

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