Saturday, January 24, 2009

This I Believe

For my Democratic Capitalism Class we have been given an assignment to write an essay in the same style as the This I Believe project.  (Check out the one titled Be Cool to the Pizza Delivery Dude, it's hysterical!)  

I've been pondering the assignment and how I wanted to approach it for more than a week now.  This morning, after being abruptly woken up at 6am by three alarm clocks going off in sync, it finally came together and I wrote this in about an hour.  (I have now added MAKE SURE THE KIDS ALARM CLOCKS ARE TURNED OFF to my Friday night to-do checklist.  Getting up at 6am on Saturday is Not. Cool.)

Now our teacher for this class is young (younger than me, sob!) and almost done with his own Ph.D.  He is also very cool and encouraged us to be funny and write in our own voice.  Little did he know that telling me that can be dangerous!  The framework for the essay is write about what we believe the American Dream is.  That's it.  Ah, the FREEDOM!  I thought some of you brave enough to read the whole thing might be interested.  (Ok, so only my Mom and Dad will read the whole thing.  BFD.)  This is my rough draft:

I believe that the American Dream is the Pursuit of Happiness.

When you are in pursuit of something – unless you are Wile E. Coyote – there are rules and regulations. I believe that our founding fathers intended the Pursuit of Happiness to be applied in a way that everyone as a whole could benefit, not just some individuals. And I believe for our society to succeed and flourish and to give everyone the same opportunity to pursue happiness, four rules and regulations must be followed.

Rule Number One: You may not run anyone over in your pursuit of happiness. Think of this rule as the same one cops follow when they make the decision to pursue a suspect at a high rate of speed. If their suspect, or your happiness, is located in the middle of a park full of children and old people all of whom are frolicking with unicorns and kittens, you may not pursue your happiness at eighty miles per hour through the middle of the park. People will get hurt and everyone will hate you. The unicorns you have not run over and killed will stab you with their horns and you will be unhappy too.

Instead, you must go around the park to pursue your happiness. Or maybe go through the park but at a slower, more leisurely pace so as not to hurt anyone. Pet the unicorns and kittens, play a game or two of jump rope with the kids and take it slow.

If your happiness awaits you in a high-level job with the company of your dreams, do not get the job by sabotaging your co-workers to make yourself look better to the boss. If your happiness lies in parenthood, do not make a baby before you are able to take care of it both mentally and physically. And if driving a racecar makes you happy, do it on the racetrack and not on highway 522 in the middle of the night.

Rule Number Two: You might not get what you want. If what will make you happy is detrimental to society, let it go and accept that you are not going to get your happiness that way. Move on to the next best thing.

If killing people with a chainsaw, scaring small children or pulling the wings off of flies is what makes you happy, you will have to come up with an alternative. (And please, seek therapy!)

If dealing illicit drugs will make you happy, you are out of luck. You can do it for a while but eventually you will wind up in jail, which will, most likely, make you unhappy. So save us all some time and money and don’t do it. If drugs make you happy lobby for drug legislature reform, write mystery novels whose characters consume copious quantities of drugs or become a pharmacist.

Rule Number Three: Take responsibility for your actions. The fact is we are all going to screw up from time to time while pursing happiness. Until humans achieve Godlike perfection, mistakes are inevitable. If you hurt someone, make it better. That may mean apologizing, paying child support, postponing grad school to raise a baby, paying reparations for damage you have caused or bringing home flowers to your wife every night for the rest of your life so she doesn’t castrate you in your sleep. Whatever you have done, own it. Do not deflect responsibility for your actions onto your teachers, parents, friends or everyone in the world who hates you and is Out. To. Get. You. You made choices and you need to deal with the consequences of those choices, good or bad.

Rule Number Four: Help others. You are only one of approximately three hundred and five million people in the United States and six and a half billion people world wide; it’s not all about you so get over yourself. If you have an opportunity to help someone else in his or her pursuit of happiness, take it. Write a recommendation letter, donate money, shovel snow for an elderly neighbor, vote, hire a qualified but inexperienced candidate, lobby for a cause that is near and dear to your heart, volunteer, mentor someone younger than you, let people merge in front of you on the freeway. Everyone needs to help each other in their pursuit of happiness and everyone will benefit from this.

I believe that the American Dream is the pursuit of happiness and if everyone follows these rules, everyone will benefit and our founding fathers American Dream will be realized.


ChiTown Girl said...

Well, this teacher gives it an A! I would have given you an A+, but you didn't have any delightful illustrations done in crayon like MY students do! ;-)

The Hotfessional said...

I read the whole thing. Start to finish. And I love it. Truly. I'm going to print it out and give it to every High Schooler I know graduating this year. ;-)

Wait. If I do that, will I have to pay you royalties? Well, maybe I'll just have Shortman read this post.

Jason, as himself said...

Bravo! Can I copy this and just say this is what I believe, too?

C said...

I agree with's for EVERY one, not just ONE...and the part about not running people down in your pursuit of happiness? Brilliant! I see a high school assembly tour in your future...