The Story So Far (Pt. 1)
Growing up in a lower-middle class home in America in the age of television, I learned the same definition of the American Dream that most of us do – to exceed your parents’ means, to accumulate wealth and possessions, and through this become a ‘success’. As could be expected, I spent the first 30 years of my life living that version of the American Dream.
Around the time I turned 18, the Berlin wall came down and the enemy I had known all my life, and that my father had known all his life, had conceded defeat and, overnight, was now a friend – in need. The Cold War was over. Now we could finally get to the task of spreading our evangelical message of a better life through democracy and free-market commerce to the whole world! Of course there was so much work left to be done. Of course there were billions left in the world who had yet an opportunity to enjoy the prosperity of the free world, but it was a new day! America had been reborn – unencumbered by the diversions of a bipolar power balance – reaffirmed in the desert sands of Kuwait as the undisputed, singular superpower.
Technological innovations ushered in a new, economic golden age. Trade liberalization promised jobs for the Third World and cheaper products here at home. It seemed just about everyone was upwardly mobile and e-commerce had created this century’s gold rush. The government was promising a ‘peace dividend’ and we all basked in the promise of a better tomorrow for everyone.
When I graduated from college, I was 23 years old. I had many job offers and took the highest paying one because that’s what its all about, not to mention I had to pay back $20,000 in student loans. I went to work in the booming tech industry – will train, no experience required – and thus started a promising career in software development. I traveled the world, my salary kept going up. I met the girl of my dreams, got married, bought a house, got a dog and sat back to enjoy my status as an American ‘success’.For the first six years of my professional life I lived in relative contentment with only a subtle yet ever-present nagging just below the surface…(tbc)