Recently, I find myself confronted with a wealth of blog posts, articles, news and public opinion stories bemoaning the demise of the middle class and the American Dream.
The increase in "woe is us" rhetoric may be due to the fact that the nation is facing an election year in a down economy. Politicians and their allies in the media excel at painting a gloomy picture that only they can change if only we would elect them.
As hard as politicians and the media seek to limit our understanding and convince us otherwise, both the middle class and the American Dream remain alive. Middle class is more than income and assets, and the American Dream more than a house with a white picket fence. More than anything, middle class is values and beliefs, the chief of which are independence, self reliance, and the right of the individual to achieve and to fail. These values are a legacy from our pioneer forefathers who lived them and, as a result, built a nation.
The American Dream is to achieve; to have, hold, and enjoy the rewards of that achievement. If one is to succeed, one must also be allowed to fail. Inherent to any achievement is the potential to fail and a responsibility to bear the cost of failure and to start over.
To fall out of the middle class is not to fail at meeting some arbitrarily set standard of income but to abandon one's independence, self reliance, and hope. To give up independence is to become dependent. To give up self reliance is to rely on others. And to give up hope to accept hopelessness.
To fall out of the middle class is to trade liberty for slavery. And I will be no man's slave.
Do you want to be independent?
Will you rely on yourself for your hope and your future?
Will you to work to achieve that future and that hope?
Will you bear the costs of any failure, pick up the pieces, and try again?
If so, then welcome to the middle class!
Now, go live your dream.