The American Dream
I always thought that the American dream was just about owning my own house and raising a family; but in truth, it isn’t. “The American dream I believe in now is a shared one. It’s not so much about what I can get for myself; it’s about how we can all get by together.” Eve Birch; “The Art of Being A Neighbor” Owning your own home and having all those fancy gadgets and gizmos is only a small fraction of the American dream. What really makes the dream so wonderful and worth achieving is the people who help you achieve it.
“The Art of Being A Neighbor” by Eve Birch is an essay about a time when Eve depended on her neighbors around her to stay alive. “The locals knew nothing about me. But slowly, they started teaching me the art of being a neighbor. They dropped off blankets, candles, tools and canned deer meat, and they began sticking around to chat.” When I was eight my mother lost our house, and my brother Joey and I were homeless. My older sister Anna, who was almost a stranger to me, took us in when my mother disappeared. My eighteen year old sister took care of me; she got rid of my lice, she found a proper bed for me to sleep in, and she even took me to school before she went to work. Although my sister is family and not my neighbor like in “The Art of Being A Neighbor” by Eve Birch, but she fought for the dream of an untied family.
Eve’s neighbors not only gave her supplies but gave her the means to support herself. “The women on that mountain worked harder than any I’d ever met. They taught me the value of a whetstone to sharpen my knives, how to store food in the creek and keep it cold and safe. I learned to keep enough for an extra plate for company.” My sister Anna taught me how to be independent; she showed me how to wash my clothes, how to cook, and how to clean the house.
“After four years in that hollow, I moved back into town. I saw that a lot of people were having a really hard time, losing their jobs and homes. With the help of a real estate broker I chatted up at the grocery store, I managed to rent a big enough house to take in a handful of people.” Like Eve
I was taught to help those around me when I can. My neighbor has a sick wife and their constantly in and out of the hospital due to surgeries. To help my neighbors, I cook dinner for all three of us so they don’t have to worry about what to eat after such an emotional day.
I agree with Eve Birch that the American dream is not about what I can do for myself; But what we can do for others. Without Eve’s neighbors she might not have survived. Without my sister’s help I might have ended up in foster care. Without my help my neighbor would worry about what to make for dinner instead of spending more time with his hurting wife. The American dream is about what we can do together as a people.