The American dream is not a myth. I am living it. Rags to riches still happens in the USA the greatest nation on earth.
You miss the point. If there are winners, there must be losers. Your American dream was coming true is at the expense of someone else, actually probably lots of other people. I am not saying that you can't get ahead in America. I am saying that you get ahead on the backs of someone else.
It is easy to create contrasts and extremes. If you create conditions ripe for exploitation then you should not be surprised when exploitation occurs. That is what America is about.
The myth of the Americans dream is that America produces wealth. In reality, it just redistributes wealth, and it does it unfairly. It goes to where the wealth is and takes it. It is about pillaging the environment and taking from others, not producing. The country was taken, by force. Repeatedly and systematically. From the Indians. From the Mexicans. Slavery was used to leverage advantage. Industrial wealth was created through child labor, sweatshops, and lack of concern for the safety and welfare of others. Now we are more careful and do our exploitation offshore, but it is still the same thing and the beneficiaries are the same. We have replaced those jobs with low wage service jobs domestically. Whatever, scenario you care to look at it is the same thing.
There is a cost to this wealth. America is a study in contrasts. For every wealthy person there are dozens of people living in poverty. We blame to poor for their lot. It is there fault that they live that way. They too could be like me if only they had my ... But that is the unspoken lie. Not everyone can be rich. If everyone was rich then we wouldn't be rich, would we? Wealth requires that others live in poverty. It is just a question of who gets the dirty end of the stick. That is the American dream. Do it to someone else or you will have it done to you.
Jesus had a heart for the poor, for widows, and for the sick. He asked that we have the same concern. How can a rich Christian live with his wealth and faith? It is a challenge, like a camel fitting through the eye of a needle. Remember? James said:
1Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a] 6You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. (James 5)
We are all rich, by the standards of the world. Even the poorest of us is rich compared to the lot of someone living in poverty in Africa or Asia. That is the cost of our wealth. Rich nation exploits poor nation, just as a rich person exploits a poor person. We can close our eyes to what is happening around us, but that does not change the circumstances.
There is a great danger in trying to justify our wealth. There is great danger in watching our money grow while others starve. We can grow hard hearted because we see the poor and do not want to be like them. We fear losing our wealth so we hold onto it more tightly. We justify the indefensible, so that we can go on living as if nothing has changed. But something has changed. We will all stand before God in judgment someday.
I am a professional. I live a comfortable, privileged life in a clean, secure and prosperous country. I came from working class parents, educated myself and got ahead. I have paid lots in taxes over the years, but have never resented it. In fact, like Warren Buffett, I think that my taxes should be higher. I think that others deserve a break. Still, I don't think that this gets me off the hook with God.
I feel helpless in face of a monumental problem. The gap between rich and poor has been widening for decades now. The middle class is a myth. People live in middle class comfort and a great deal of debt. Both parents now work to make ends meet. We are guilty of living too high, but that is another story.
Middle class workers are the new serfs. They are being bombarded with advertising by corporations who want you to buy everything under the sun, so that they can get rich. People are told to consume and they do. But they live in servitude, not to lords of the medieval era, but to banks. They are on a treadmill and they must always do more to get less. People don't have to live this way, but this is what the economy is built around, consumption. If they stop consuming everyone loses. Or do they?
Is there an alternative? Have we built a house of cards that is going to come crashing down? The Bible says that it will all end some day. As James said, what good will our wealth be then? Much of what we do is wasted effort. Living a comfortable life now will only come back to bite us in the end.
By helping others we help ourselves. By giving away some of what we have, we can make a difference. By creating a level playing field we can do away with privilege and sloth. It doesn't have to be painful, but it should be. Jesus told us that giving from our surplus is not the same as giving something of value.
What we don't need is apologists for exploitation of the poor. I can't see how any Christian in good conscience can do this. I am a voice in the wilderness, I know. I am a minority, especially as long as people hold onto myths, like the American dream.