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Privilege and the American Dream

| Monday, October 5, 2015

As far as the “American Dream” goes, my father has lived through it all. After losing almost all of their possessions to a communist Cuban regime, his family packed what little they could carry and arrived in U.S, the land of opportunity, when he was just three years old. What would come proved to be a struggle, as my grandparents worked menial jobs to provide what little they could for their three boys. Despite the challenges, the family quickly assimilated to their new homeland, learning a new culture and its customs, all while speaking a new language.

With the understanding that education is the key to escaping poverty, my grandparents put all three boys through college. Through hard work and discipline, my father made it all the way through medical school while working multiple jobs and taking out multiple loans. Somewhere in the process I came to be, and my dad continued to work hard, providing for me every opportunity our great land has to offer, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Yet, after years of hearing my father’s story and reveling in his success, I have always felt a twang of guilt when thinking about my own accomplishments. Sure, I have a lot to be proud of, but I certainly have to attribute some of it to my privileged background. The “rags to riches” story could never be a reality for me, as well as the honor that goes with it, or so I thought.

Thankfully, with maturity came a realization: Feeling guilty helps no one. The best way to pay tribute to the “American Dream” is to help preserve it. Privilege should not imply dishonor. Instead, it should imply duty. Just because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the “American Dream.”

Unfortunately statistics will tell you the idea of the “American Dream” is beginning to fade. Our nation in rooted in the idea that anyone who is ready to sacrifice can make it here, but it seems as though that may no longer be realistic. This is where we privileged first-worlders come in. By using the same principles that illuminated my father’s path out of poverty, we can help those in the same position my father was many years ago. With sacrifice, discipline and most of all hard work, we can keep the “American Dream” alive.

One thing I do to help preserve the “American Dream” is using my ability to speak Spanish to help tutor at a local, predominantly Spanish-speaking middle school. But everyone has a different talent to provide, and in doing so we can accomplish a lot. Life can get busy sometimes, but making a little time to give back goes a long way. After all, it is not right to hoard the advantages you were given. Use them to help others, and in doing so help our great nation become great again.

Contact Adam Ramos at aramos6@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

Contact Adam