Sunday, October 17, 2010

The American Dream

In the years following World War II, America's economy boomed as young men came back from the war, got jobs and started families. While our nation was enjoying a healthy, growing economy, it gave birth to what we now call "The American Dream."

At first the American Dream entailed owning a small house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and a car. The more monetarily blessed families owned refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and a television set. But as the years progressed, the American Dream has grown larger and larger, gorging itself on the rampant materialism of modern Americans.

Today the American Dream includes: a large luxurious house, at least two cars, a closet stuffed with brand name clothes, a dual refrigerator and freezer, a dishwasher, a washing machine and a dryer, a big screen TV with cable or satellite, a microwave, countless kitchen appliances, 2.6 kids and a dog.

Recently in my quest to learn more about managing a home, I started wondering the minimal amount a small family could live on. After asking my mom about it and looking around at other families, it was astonishing to me how much less people live on (and with larger families than ours!) In 2008 and 2009, the average household income for America was $50,221( But I came across this blog post about a stay-at-home mom who lived on $16,000 per year with a family of 9! After that, I started looking around at all the things I had always seen as "essential" and realizing they weren't that essential after all.

-A dryer. While some people may see a dryer as a necessity, a clothesline works just as well. If you wanted to be really extreme you could even forego the washing machine and wash your clothes by hand!
-A dishwasher. Dishwashers are extremely convenient (especially when you're cooking multiple meals a day) but many people still wash and dry their dishes by hand.
-A television. TVs are great for entertaining small children or for vegging when you need to relax, but amazingly, people did survive before they were invented.
-A microwave. Before microwaves, there were ovens and stoves. Oh wait, we still have those! ;)
-Extra cars. Living in a large family that's always coming and going, I know how inconvenient it is not to have a car when you need one, but there's always the option of coordinating with family members or catching a ride with friends.
-Kitchen appliances. I could name hundreds of unnecessary kitchen appliances here, but if you have a few good pots and pans, sharp knives, and sturdy spoons you've already got a good foundation.

And these are just possessions. I haven't even mentioned expensive habits and activities... ;)

My point is simply this: even Christians within the church have been fooled into thinking they need to live the American Dream to be happy. But sometimes what we think we need, we don't really need at all! :)


Shyla said...

This is a wonderful post, encouraging us to begin at the point of thoughtfulness.

You wrote truth beautifully.

God's peace,
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