Students Should Embrace The American Dream

Mark Laluan

I could go on and on about what I’ve done, what I’ve encountered and what I’ve accomplished during my time at Cal State East Bay, yet it matters not a whit to those living beyond this city on a hill.

This year’s graduates will have survived a seething morass consisting of egos, classes, commuting, budget cuts, partying, professors, student politics, greek life, dorms, roommates, spring romances, technology, bad puns, the Dewey decimal system and other aspects of campus life to arrive at the finish-line. It is important to keep in mind that what we have done so far has been to participate in a dry-run of real life and gain that entry ticket into the workforce called a bachelor’s degree.

The transition from college student to member of the workforce is a difficult one by anyone’s reckoning. Yet is an unavoidable event if we are to truly make use of what we have learned during our time in college.

Graduation looms on the horizon and already some are calling for the end of the market economy, hoping this move will ensure peace, land and bread for all.

Ending capitalism will not guarantee jobs to college graduate any more than the command economy of the Soviet Union could guarantee stable employment to all living inside the Iron Curtain.

Forced social and economic change should not be treated as a panacea for all of society’s ills and society is not a sandbox for graduates to experiment with reckless abandon upon.

We need to create an educational environment that challenges graduates to participate in Wall Street, become active in civic life and find success in the workplace. Unfortunately, certain influences and aspects of the college experience stress destruction over creation, non-involvement with “the system” over embracing the art of the possible.

We are taught to hate profit, to hate climbing the social ladder and to hate all forms of individual exceptionalism not in accordance with communalist principles. In short we are taught to hate working to achieve the American Dream.

America is not a beacon to immigrants because they wish a chance to be equally destitute in a society which actively works to suppress ingenuity. No, they come here to escape oppression, make money, rise in their station and better their children’s lives.

Denying any human the opportunity thrive and call it social “progressivism” is intellectually dishonest.

How can we pay for health care for all, security for all and education for all without the expanded tax base a prosperous and confident citizenry provides? There is no such thing as a free lunch as China’s so-called “Communists” found out the hard way.

Why should I be denied the opportunity to become a successful individual with the means to endow organizations or foundations to do work to advance the human condition? Is the government inherently better at spending my hard earned money than I am?

Immigrants ought to have the right to do the same. To deny them the ability to flourish in the market economy using a hallow excuse that “bankers are hoarding the wealth and keeping the peons down” is more nativist than progressive in both thinking and application.

There is no system of social and economic organization which can ensure all humans will automatically succeed. Cuba under Castro tried and their inability to apply even Soviet recommended methods of agriculture in the 1980s has led to massive starvation in contemporary times.

Surprisingly this is also an example of how the contemporary university turns failure into a twisted Aesop.

Only one holding court in an Ivory Tower could turn Cuba’s forced transition from mechanized agriculture to subsistence farming into a “triumph” of sustainable agriculture. These perspectives are useful to gain a perspective on contemporary discourse but do little to aid the student in navigating the realities of the larger world.

College grants the graduate the tools to craft how they wish to make an impact on the world. Yet college cannot provide a ready-made template for how to approach the larger world in any given situation.

Only experience and trial and error can supply the knowledge necessary to move beyond college learning to the realm of constructive application.

We need more than “hope”, “change” and other concepts from contemporary romantic comedies to succeed in the real world. The graduate needs to be willing to grasp success and accept his or her limits.

The graduate should emphasize the concrete over the abstract, results over possibilities.

They ought to envision themselves as being the future titans of industry, heroic doctors, innovative scientists, wizened philosophers and political solons, not grim revolutionaries reduced to a predatory existence while holding fast to and never moving beyond ideological fetishisms.

Only by accepting this mandate can the graduate take control of his or her future by taking on a role suited to guiding the destiny of a great people; our American nation.