The Changing American Dream

I met a man today who told me he came to America chasing the dream, but now he taking his family and going home.  As you read his story, don't misunderstand, he is so grateful for what America has given him.  He came here from the Philippines when he was young and he wanted to taste the excitement and chase the opportunities he believed he could only find under the umbrella of freedom here.  He found it all, but now he says his dream has changed and so has America.

This man, in his late twenties, is well educated and works in the medical profession.  He's not a doctor, but he has very marketable skills and a good job here.  He is married and has two children.  He came to America as a teenager with his parents and that's when the seed of the dream was planted.  He told me he never really intended to leave again.  He loved this country and its growth and its stability. So why is he leaving now?

 There are many reasons, family, friends, money, lifestyle, but the main one is the same thing that brought him east across the Pacific.  He believes there is more opportunity now in the Philippines than there is here.  He said, “As I grow older I realize that it's not just about chasing a career or money or houses or cars, it's about family and doing something I can believe in.”  The house he had here is virtually worthless.  The freeway he rides on to get to work is crumbling and choked with cars that are getting more expensive, he said, because of government regulations and environmental demands.  His children face constant pressure to experiment with drugs at school and if they don't they are bullied.  For him, he says, it's time to re-think his life. 

I asked him if things were better in the Philippines.  He said, it's a mess there, too but it's simpler.  I can have my own business and send my kids to an inexpensive private school.  We can live in a neighborhood where we know our neighbors and they are all our family.  People watch out for other people there.  Most importantly, he said, I will feel as if I am doing some good. 

Then we got into the philosophy of this important, life-changing decision.  This young family man said he came to this country and learned that you could have a good life as a member of the middle class, but now the middle class in America is gone.  He said, in the Philippines there are only rich and poor.  When I go home there, I will be one of the rich.  I will have a good job and a house, that's rich in the Philippines.  “If I stay here”, he said, “I will end up losing my house and maybe even my job.  I don't want to be stuck here in America and I don't want my children chasing something that does not exist anymore.”

I had one last question.  Isn't it frightening living in a nation where the government is unstable and corrupt?  He laughed and said, at least in the Philippines there is no pretense, yes it's corrupt.  But, here we all pretend our government agencies work and our officials, local and national, are honest and trustworthy and then we all seem surprised when they let us down.

As I shook his hand and turned to go, he said again that I should not misunderstand; he thinks the United States is a wonderful place with wonderful values and a shining star in the world.   But, for him and his family it's time to go home.  He also said he will be a better Filipino because of his experiences in America because he tasted the freedom of America and hope to transplant some of that passion back home.

This is a story we all need to hear.  Our first reaction might be, let him leave.  If he has lost his desire to live in this country then he should go home, but if we do that we will miss the message.  We need to fix what is broken here.

Categories: Becker’s Digital Notebook