My Grown Up American Dream…..
Amy Chua, who wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which describes her “family’s journey in two cultures”, recently released a new book entitled The Triple Package. The Triple Package provides an explanation as to why certain ethnic groups, such as Indians, Nigerians, Chinese and Cubans, have disproportionate success in the realms of income, occupational status, and test scores than other ethnicities and some White Americans. She concludes that the secret is a combination of “a superiority complex, insecurity and impulse control”. She names this combination The Triple Package.
I’m sure Ms. Chua’s book is a good read, but as I read excerpts of the book and statements written by various critics, it dawned on me that the author is assuming one thing, that every American “success” story should be centered on money and status. That is not the case. Let’s face it; most people usually immigrate to the United States primarily for economic reasons. They yearn to earn because they want to be socially mobile. They want to live more comfortable lives and they want better options for their children. Nevertheless, some people come here because they are fleeing war, some are fleeing from ethnic or religious persecution and some flee for political and social reasons. Irrespective of their migratory story, these newcomers usually start off at zero, and for many who usually have little or no education, their American dream becomes a dream of safety and economic security of their children. In other words, their dream, although very tangible, is not always a material dream.
Ms. Chua’s assessment troubled me because after living the experience and observing the money-making culture of America’s recent economic downturn, I realized that the pool of thousands of hardworking people who lost their homes and or their jobs was somehow interconnected.” We’re all in this together” I thought. “All of our dreams are in jeopardy”. As an immigrant, I state in my new book “Confrontation 9” how I have redefined constantly and have come to believe in meaning over matter. That is, I believed that Americans had turned inward and started focusing on the intangibles associated with the great American dream. Intangibles like the fulfillment associated with serving others, hope and dreaming and attaining impossibilities that are otherwise unimaginable when the economy is thriving. I wanted to come across more people who were now looking for meaning more so than for material salvage. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing reproachable about having wealth or wanting to attain it. After all this is America, if you can’t do it here where else can you do it? However, there is a bigger picture and that picture should portray a society focused on creating value and opportunity for everybody and not depreciating or distinguishing others based on their tenacity to succeed economically.
In essence, a Ph.D is great, and by some standards having a million dollars is even better, but having a Ph.D and a “fat” bank account, without having the sagacity to appreciate our humanity and the humanity and struggle of others is nothing but a misguided delusion. Frankly, getting caught up in the nightmare of being what you have instead of who you really are fails to reveal your true identity and thus the true identity of America, her people and the entirety of the dream. I can bear testimony to this as I and many other immigrants celebrate this great dream from an immigrant heart.
Dr. Dilshad Dayani