Monday, October 29, 2012

The American Dream

Do you know I have no idea what the American Dream is?  I mean, I know it used to be 2.2 kids, kept safely behind a white picket fence, but I'm not sure that still holds true.  But I firmly believe everything my textbooks taught me about how so many people immigrated to the States in order to pursue said ambiguous American Dream.

That is, I believed that until today.

Today, I was perusing a textbook at school, when I got to a section about how Korea is becoming more multi-cultural.  "Soon," I read, "Korea's population will be almost 5% foreign people who are living or working in Korea."  Don't get me started on the word "foreign."  I may be the only person who feels this way, but my hackles still go up when I hear it.  (Yes, I'm foreign, but the word itself makes me feel unwelcome.  Is "international" so much harder of a word?)  Anyway, the book provided a reason for this upswing in expats and internationals who have made Korea their permanent home.  Did it have anything to do with the failing economies in the US and EU?  No.  "Foreigners come to Korea to pursue the Korean Dream."

The Korean Dream?

I did what?

I mean, I came to Korea because I didn't want to be in America anymore.  I felt sure that I had felt G-d's nudges to go... Does that mean I was pursuing the Korean Dream?  I had been set on Korea for a while before going... so, maybe?  But, at this point, I'm pretty sure I just don't want to be in America.  Am I still pursing the Korean Dream?  Was I ever?

Then I started wondering.

Do international people living in the US feel the same way when they read about the American Dream?  I mean, some of those people come from some awful places.  But maybe it wasn't America that they specifically wanted.  Maybe they just wanted out.  Maybe it had nothing more to do with America than the fact that it's easy to get into.

I've been living here a year, and I'm still learning how egotistical being in the racial majority has made me.

These are lessons that I hope to keep with me, no matter where I end up in life.  I'd recommend the experience of living as a racial minority to anyone, even though it can be absolutely gut-wrenching sometimes, but that's the reason to do it.  People can be so horrible to each other and never realize they're doing it.  In fact, I know I used to say things because I thought I was being nice, when, in reality, I was dehumanizing an entire people group.

And it's not about being color-blind, because, then, we tend to act as if everyone were like us - the same customs, habits, and the like - but, the truth is, we're not all alike.  It's about being loving and accepting, no matter what the person brings to the table.  It's not our place to judge; it's our place to love.  There's a lot more I could add to define that, but, rather, I'll just leave you with this quote, which happens to be one of my favorites and inspired an entire term paper:
[W]e must at least return to what is for Descartes the first passion: wonder.  This passion has no opposite or contradiction and exists as though for the first time.  Thus man and woman, woman and man are always meeting as though for the first time because they cannot be [exchanged] one for the other…Whatever identifications are possible, one will never exactly occupy the place of the other – they are irreducible one to the other.  -Luce Irigaray

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