Coffee Talk: Has the American Dream Failed Us?

I can’t seem to grasp that we are in the midst of the graduation season and my brother is graduating from high school on tomorrow! Where has all of the time gone? With so many young people leaving the nest to embrace new beginnings and given the uncertainties of our economic times, I’ve asked myself, “What value do we still place in the American Dream?” 


Will the religion of “me-ism” that plagues our society and invades our young people’s lives continue to prevail for another generation or will we take heed concerning our current brokenness and warn today’s children to do better? I thank God for the young people who choose to serve our country by teaching, joining the military, becoming a police officer or other forms of public service during this critical transition in their lives. 


On the other hand, many high school students will transition into the work force or enter the gates of college campuses all over the world, and several college students will transition from classrooms and part-time jobs to very demanding careers. I wonder if we will continue to encourage them to idly chase after the world’s definition of success. The lessons of the American Dream and worldly success translate to wealth, status, power, and those are all coveted characteristics for our young people.


I have already viewed a few graduation speeches and graduate students throughout this nation are now being inspired by “respected” leaders. These speakers encourage the students to do their best and be their best. Some speakers have even encouraged the students to give back. We should certainly continue to encourage our young people to be their best selves.

A Life Lesson to Remember

Yet, I’m reminded of the old short story between a wise man and a young one. The young man was off to embrace the world and the old man questioned his motives. The conversation went something like this:


Young Man: I’m off to college.

Old Man: What then?

Young Man: I suppose I’ll get a good job.

Old Man: What then?

Young Man: Guess I’ll get married and have a couple kids.

Old Man: What then?

Young Man: I’ll retire and spend the rest of my days relaxing on the beach.

Old Man: What then?

Young Man: At some point I’ll die.

Old Man: What then?


In this story the old man is questioning the focus, motivation, and priority of the young one. We do our young people a disservice if we do not consistently encourage them to focus on the one main thing that is ultimately important. Our lives are so much more than food, clothing, and shelter (Matthew 6: 31-33, Luke 12: 13-21). 


God does not place value in our earthly possessions. Through his teachings, Jesus encourages us to be rich toward God.  What does that mean? It means that we are created for something much greater than even the highly coveted American Dream. We are created to love and worship and adore God.  I love singing the song which states that one day is better spent with God than a thousand days spent elsewhere without him. That is an unwavering and true graduation lesson for the masses and I pray that you will share it.


My friend Judy Douglass’ book entitled, The Secret of Success is filled with wisdom for young people branching out to tackle the world. Her book, based in the truth of God’s Word, would be an invaluable gift.


What are some other words of encouragement that you are sharing with graduates?

 © Natasha S. Robinson 2011

Published by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Servant of Jesus. Truth-teller. Leader. Mentor. Author of Books.

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