What is the American Dream? It’s a question with a multitude of answers. Companies in the housing industry use “American Dream” to equate it with owning a house. It is the same with companies who are in the jobs market; they equate the American Dream with working hard, earning good wages, and getting ahead. Hussein Soetoro vaguely referred to the American Dream when designating a certain demographic of illegal alien invaders as “dreamers.” He touted those that crossed into the United States illegally were only trying to make a better life for themselves and their family.
A myriad of opinions surface when asking an individual to pinpoint the meaning of the American Dream. However, some individuals believe the American Dream is non-existent or a lie. It’s one opinion held by Seahawks Lineman Russell Okung.
Okung formulated his conclusion in an essay at GeekWire in response to Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham’s essay covering income inequality. Reading both articles, it would seem that Okung missed the point really of Graham’s article. But, that isn’t the point. The point is the statement made by Okung that the American Dream is a lie.
In his essay, Okung wrote:
Some think working hard solves the problems of poverty and institutional oppression and the lack of social mobility. Some think that by sheer determination, one can overcome such issues.
But economic inequality isn’t the symptom; it’s the virus that attacks. You, Graham, like the rest of America, have been deceived. You are a victim of the American Dream, the belief that anyone who works hard can move up economically regardless of his or her social circumstances. American cultural optimism is one of the greatest lies ever told.
Okung claims the American Dream is “the belief that anyone who works hard can move up economically regardless of his or her social circumstances.” He claims “American cultural optimism is one of the greatest lies ever told.”
First, when the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, everyone was on an even footing. Their reason for leaving England for the colonies was none other than religious freedom. These brave colonists wanted to practice the religion of their choice and not to support the “established” religion, The Church of England, through monetary means.
When the colonies grew and King George III exuded tyranny over the colonists, brave men drafted the Declaration of Independence, declaring “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them; ….We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ….”
Here is where the American Dream began and rests today. Every individual in nations around the world have some type of dwelling where they live. All work at a job to support themselves and their family. Moreover, all nations have various classes of individuals meaning not everyone makes the same amount of money. The American Dream was freedom, liberty, and limited government so as not to interfere with the success of individuals to pursue what makes them happy.
Likewise, the American Dream was equality under the law, the inherent rights of individuals to be protected and the idea that people can self-govern. It was never about “income equality,” or “wealth equality.” The Creator endows each individual with different talents. Only in a nation of limited government and one where the people self-govern produces at atmosphere where individuals can explore varying options to find their talent or pursue their happiness.
Some individuals never find their talent because they look toward fame, wealth and every power but one — God. Their heroes are sports stars, movie stars, and politicians who do not contribute their money to “give a hand up” but will spend others’ money to give a hand out. The true heroes are not found in sports, movies or politics; but in everyday individuals who achieve extraordinary things by believing and trusting in God to guide their way. Extraordinary things can be as simple as changing one life through going above and beyond one’s duty or job description. It is as simple as a man and wife teaching their children as the Bible commands, empowering them with values and principles.
Wealth is not always measured in material things or income. Heroes are not always the ones who run the fastest, hit the hardest or throw the farthest on a playing field. And, the phrase “all men are created equal” applies to the law, not income, talent, lifestyle, etc.
He slams the part of the American Dream of pursuing one’s happiness by blaming “barriers to entry.”
“So many people will never experience their dreams because there are far too many barriers of entry they can’t do anything about. And all that goes back to elitism — the elitism that’s manufacturing economic inequality.
Okung enjoys a six-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks with a total salary of $48,500,000. His average yearly salary is $8,083,333. Okung’s sign on bonus amounted to $1,680,000 with a guaranteed money of $29,300,000. It appears the immigrant to the US from Nigeria minds not his own exorbitant income. One wonders if he used his personal income to start a non-profit organization called GREATER, which stands for growth, responsibility, engagement, awareness, trust, execution, and results.
The reality of life is everyone does not have the same opportunity when doing the same work/job. All college football players do not go to the NFL. Some have other dreams while others may not have the same talents and are not drafted. The recruiter is charged with finding the best for his team to be successful. It’s like every other work position — the employer chooses the best candidate for the job based on qualifications. Just because someone doesn’t get to play “pro football” doesn’t mean they are not successful nor does it mean they had little exposure or opportunity.
Moreover, sometimes one has to make their own opportunities. Through it all, individuals make choices that determine the direction of their life, which affects their lifestyle. Good choices produce positive results and bad choices, bad results. With everything else being at fault for an individual doing poorly except for the individual making the choice, it becomes a veritable playground for hypocrites like Okung to “blame a system” where he, like many others, rose above the average income level. But, having wealth does not always equate to being successful.
One can see where Okung gets his contempt as he cites among Steve Case, Barack Hussein Obama Soetoro Soebarkah as individuals “who actively work to expand capital and invest in untapped talent in America.” Okung should know the money Hussein Soetoro spends comes from the taxpayer, not his personal pocket. But, Okung is like many others who believe “Obama gives me foo’ stamps” when in actuality it is the taxpayer, through government theft, that provides individuals with “foo’ stamps.”
For someone who is an immigrant to the United States, Okung has enjoyed the freedom, liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness America provides or the American Dream. He shows his gratitude by voicing contempt over a system that he has received benefit. Granted, this nation is slowly losing our inherent rights due to the government over-reach perpetrated by Congress, the executive and the judiciary. Also, government over-regulation, importation of illegal alien invaders to replace Americans in jobs, and the incentive given to companies to relocate overseas had contributed to a big problem in America.
So, before Okung slings contempt upon the system, he should investigate where the problems originate, part with the bulk of his income to someone else who needs it and relinquish his lineman position to someone who “lacked exposure” or “didn’t have access.” He’s made plenty of money with his contract. It’s time he “helped” the system by vacating his position to someone else who could benefit but had not the opportunity. If not, he needs to quit condemning a system while telling everyone else to show compassion and “build people up.” While complaining about the American Dream, Okung, as well as others, were able to rise to the top because of it.