STREETS PAVED WITH GOLD

A Different Road, by Rich Paschall


There are many people, especially those who live in third world countries I presume, who live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  They have little hope of something better in their own country so they dream of going elsewhere.  If they can get a passport, a visa and enough money, many still aspire to travel to the USA.  When they arrive, all but the lucky few will eventually discover that they have moved to a country where many live in poverty, can not get a good education or good job, have infrastructure in need of building or repair, and have government leaders who only take care of the rich and those with special interests.  In fact U.N. Envoy Philip Alston (Australian) found things to be quite bleak. “The American dream, he says, is an ‘American illusion’.” (as reported on NRP.org).

another world

Once they have arrived, these immigrants can not turn around and go back.  They have sold everything and come with just a suitcase or two of clothes and memories.  Right wing nationalists will tell them to go home, but there is no home to return to.  They have already given up everything.  The only choice is to try to make the best of it.  Many will eventually succeed. Some will stay and struggle. Some will return to a land they had hope to give up forever.

These immigrants certainly did not expect the streets to be paved with gold, but they certainly felt the standard of living was high and almost everyone had instant success.  Life was just one large party where everyone dressed in good clothes, ate well and enjoyed the good life.  Some friends of mine who have come from other countries tell me that friends back home still believe in the great American Dream even when relatives who live here tell them it is not so.  What fuels this “streets paved with gold” thinking?  Why does anyone think someplace else is better if relatives say it is not? Do they not hear the discouraging comments of our right-wing politicians?

Paved with gold?

Anyone can see the road that they walk on
Is paved in gold
And it’s always summer
They’ll never get cold
They’ll never get hungry
They’ll never get old and grey

The Grass Is Greener:  If you live in an area where the prospects are bleak, it may seem logical to believe that life must be better somewhere else.  Your heart and mind may tell you, “This can not be all there is.”  From there you may make plans to travel to a place where life will be better.  It seems to be in our nature to believe in “the grass is greener somewhere else”, especially if you have no grass at all.

Depression and Hope: It is certainly depressing to live in a community, and in fact a country, where there is little hope to get ahead in society.  If you struggle to get enough food for your meager existence, then going elsewhere is the logical response.  If the US offers hope to you, then that may be your destination of choice.  But why do people see USA as the place to go?  What continues to fuel the belief for many that everyone lives on easy street in America?

Television:  Many successful American television shows are broadcast all over the world.  I watched The Simpsons in Spanish in Colombia, but there were also a variety of comedies and dramas.  Would “Friends” give you a good idea of what life is like in America?  Would any of the other long running comedies or dramas show an accurate picture?  Do the police procedurals, as many now call them, reassure people since the bad guy is always caught?  People are not living in poverty or struggling to get by in these shows.

Music Videos: For younger people there seems to be an endless supply of music videos in Spanish as well as English showing the non stop dance party.  Beautiful young people in fashionable clothes are dancing on rooftops and beaches, across New York City, Miami and Los Angeles and living the good life.  Everything must be good as everyone seems to be having fun.

These random thoughts of mine are supported by more than the anecdotal evidence provided by the tales of my neighbors.  If you live in or near a large US Metropolitan area, you can hear many stories that are the same if you care to listen.  As far back as Benjamin Franklin, people “have formed, through ignorance, mistaken ideas and expectations of what is to be obtained there.”  We have disappointed immigrants from the beginning, and their stories are always being told.

The sad stories of those who travel here are also the disappointments for many of us.  The wealthy class may get ahead through inheritance and connections, while the rest struggle.  At present, the government promotes the idea that the rich should get richer, as in the previously failed promise that the money in the pockets of the rich will somehow benefit all.  This trickle down nonsense is not portrayed in the American television shows and music videos playing in other countries.

Sources: The Way by Fastball, lyrics by Tony Scalzo, https://www.azlyrics.com
America Has Been Disappointing Immigrants For A Long Time by Jared Favole, https://medium.com
U.N. Investigator On Extreme Poverty Issues A Grim Report — On The U.S.” by Sasha Ingper, www.npr.org
U.S. students’ academic achievement still lags that of their peers in many other countries,” February 15, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org

Also read: What international test scores reveal about American education,” Louis Serino, 

 

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

19 thoughts on “STREETS PAVED WITH GOLD”

  1. Sometimes, I realize this is exactly what my family did. When they came here, that was it. They were never going back. There were letters … long, slow letters that had to go by sea, but their severing relationships was permanent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly all true. I guess it is human nature to want something more and strive to get it. Since at least the end of World War Two Australia has been seen as a country where the sun always shines and everyone is happy. Many families including my own chose to make a fresh start here and for many of us Australia has been the lucky country but it is not without problems, what country is? I feel compassion for those people whose lives in their home country were so bad they felt compelled to travel to Australia on boats risking pirates, drowning and being robbed by people smugglers. They only wanted what we have and don’t deserve to be locked up as criminals. Sometimes leaving is the only choice.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. As a young man, I found the streets paved with golden opportunities. You had to actively pursue them. Not sure about those streets today.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I do know of families that have returned to their native land because they were not content here. I have also heard others, from “away” say, that they have never worked so hard to make a go of it here. Right now Canada is experiencing a surge of refugees entering from the USA. They are risking life an limb to walk several miles through the snow and cold because they think that Canada has the answer. At this point I don’t think life is easy anywhere.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

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