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« The "American Dream" Needs a Major Makeover »

The American Dream continues to be a driving mythology in our land—driving everything from how we dress and what we watch to how healthcare gets shaped and economic growth gets worshipped. The flow of cultural mythology in the U.S. states: prosperity is always good and along with it comes upward social and economic mobility. Going with that flow is a lot easier than going against it. Though it’s now a complete illusion, going with it draws praise and agreement; going against means you have to explain yourself—often to ears and hearts who don’t want to hear it.

But its not just you or me who is making the argument against the American Dream today. Someone with a whole lot more authority than you and I is at it. Earth herself is giving orders and invitations. She simply can’t take the American Dream anymore. She can’t clone herself into the 5 planets of resources required if all 7,000,000,000 of the human species live the American Dream. She can’t keep the other species alive under U.S. mythology. Her ecosystems are collapsing and lots of species that are absolutely essential aren’t making it either.

Truth is, we have to contract the economy in places and drastically reshape it, or Earth will continue to contract all species, including ours. The American Dream has no way to talk about the dilemma of ecological contraction so big that it forces economic contraction. Instead, the American Dream absurdly espouses belief that we deserve bigger houses, cars, vacations, and budgets. But these are out of scale and out of step with Earth—who, in case we’ve forgotten, bats last. The “bigger” theme that dominates the American Dream has to go. Since we haven’t purged the Dream of “bigger,” Earth is showing us how.

The makeover of our national mythology that Earth is writing doesn’t talk about us as consumers but as spiritual beings who behave most wisely when we feel awe in the presence of her evolutionary mysteries. We are wisest, her dreams says, when we study the flowers, trees, microbes, marine life, and insects for how to do economics. There we see radical interconnectedness instead of competitive advantage and unending growth.

But don’t wait for someone else to transform the American Dream to a compelling, useful mythology for the 21st century. Ponder your personal mythology as Question 5, page 27, in Blinded by Progress asks you to do. Get your own mythology to contrast strongly with the American Dream of the past and speak up in solidarity with Earth. It’s the Earth Dream, not the past American Dream, that we want to drive our lives is it not?

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