Why are so many people drawn to America? What is it about the “American Life,” whatever that might mean, that makes one country the destination or dream or perceived “Promise Land” of so many disparate cultures? The fact is that the American Dream is just that, a dream, for the majority of immigrants, and many cultures set up their own closed communities as if they wanted no part of the “American Life.” Yet the migration continues. It is not that America has found the perfect cultural common denominator, but rather that the material goods and quality of life that draws in every culture and lifestyle. In short, the key is not the American lifestyle but the perceived American easy of life. And this is important, because often we talk of people seeking out the “American way of life,” and then wonder how they can complain or refuse to adapt themselves when they finally arrive. They didn’t come for an “American way of life,” they came to continue their own lives and dreams (rooted in their own cultures, religions, languages, and experiences), only more comfortably.
(Photo: New York City, August 2007)