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The American Dream
First Published in May 2008

Author: Justin Kojok

Forty-five years after Dr. King delivered the speech about his dream and the American dream, we begin to see this dream come true.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal”

Exactly 45 years, (August 28, 1963 – August 28, 2008), after the late Dr King, Jr delivered his celebrated “I have a dream”, the Democratic Party of USA will declare the first nominated African American, Barack Obama, as the presidential candidate to lead their party to general elections in November 2008. For a country that has a strong history of racial and economic apartheid, this is a dream come true. I am sure the late Dr King is smiling in his grave (or Heaven) expressing unheard words “my dream has come true”. However, this dream will only continue to formulate and actualize if the enemies of Democracy do not shoot Obama dead just as they did to the late Dr King. The test of democracy is here, and the world waits to see if the country who claims bragging rights as a leader in democracy will pass the test

This dream comes at a time when the entire world faces global challenges in terms of political turmoil, an imbalance in population growth, economic uncertainty and deteriorating health and social services. With fluctuating socio-political climate, and constant economic changes, global leaders are faced with growing challenges. Right now, the USA is facing one of the worse politico-economic crises in the history of the country. The war in Iraq has consumed a bigger portion of US attention. The war is like holding a snake in deep waters. You fear to let it neither go nor continue holding it. Forecloses are on the ascendancy, social service is nothing to write home about, and as the privatization of the medical industry increases, many Americans struggle to pay costly medical bills. Americans now live to work, instead of working to live. While the average Americans continue to dream of the day they will be able to partake in the American Dream, they find certain conditions inhibit their ability to actualize the dream.

Yet, in the midst of chaos, the USA still has bragging rights as a super power; a country that sneezes and the entire world catches fever. America also has bragging rights as a father of democracy, and as a nation that teaches other nations how to practice democracy, how to care for their people, how to run their economies, how to manage population growth and how to operate and supervise their security and military intelligence. While many citizens of other nations have limited freedoms, Americans enjoy a high level of freedom, so much so that at times they may take it for granted.

While all nations have defects, and exist in historical contexts often filled with oppressive legacies, and while the USA has its shares of flaws, it still is seen as a great nation with a strong capacity for leadership in the global world. While many countries and nations, view America through mixed lenses, the entire world still catches fever whenever the USA sneezes.

The challenges are phenomenal and diverse. USA foreign policies have almost being dragged to the ditch. Political landscape is shaky and being pulled to the testing board.US democracy is in the process of being tested. She is consistently losing its economic power to China and other Asian nations as she has become a consuming instead of producing nation, and owes them trillions of dollars. China has a huge manufacturing capacity, and thus a deep hunger for raw materials, including oil. Millions of barrels of oil that would have gone to USA now go to China to run their plants, and the ripple effect is the consistent hyper inflated gas prices greater than ever witnessed in the history of USA. This culminates with a huge public debt for the USA. USA is going through an economic recession and part of the cause is the diversion of funds to cater for war in Iraq. As of April 2008 the total U.S. federal debt was approximately $9.5 trillion. It is predicted that by 2020, China will produce more cars than the U.S. This is the challenge, and this is the test America has to pass. Will the US be able to continue to move forward in a changing global context? Will the US be able to rise above the ashes, and move forward as an example of change and global leadership in the midst of economic turbulence? This is the headache which awaits the next President of USA, be he McCain or Obama. The world waits to see what America’s next move will be.

Other challenge that the world leaders have to deal with is population imbalance and the consequent on future socio-economic arena. Population experts have it that maintaining a steady population requires a birth rate of 2.1. When we look at birth rate in Western Europe, it stands at 1.5. This means that in thirty there will be about eighty million people short of what they have today. This is problematic because it means as older citizens die out, there will be less young people to replace them. While a work force can emigrate from other countries, countries need to make sure they are able to have the capacity to support those immigrants and that they are able to be integrated into their host country. With a lack of supportive measures will lead to a politico-economic catastrophe for a number of European countries. A look at Asian countries such as Japan, its birthrate is 1.3 and she will lose about sixty million people in the range of thirty years. While Europe has tried to use immigration as a solution for population imbalance, Japan has tried to solve the imbalance by closing schools and production facilities leading to a whole set of problems with the potential of creating economic chaos. China and India continue have stable increase of population growth which, if handle well, would supports their economic growth and development. While China captures the manufacturing industry, India slowly begins to overtake the US by surprise in terms of the Information Technology; which is the backbone of today’s economy.

Africa countries are heeding to the wake-up call to practice democracy. The economies are not yet ripped for real practice of Western democracy. For the past decade, Africa south of Sahara had a little bit stability that drew a bunch of investments from Asia, Europe and America. Nonetheless, this year witnessed unprecedented political turmoil beginning with hitherto the most stable country, Kenya. The economies of African countries are still at teething age. They could do better had it not been the greedy political leaders who steal the wealth and hide in banks in Europe. With its highest population rate, Africa can do better in terms of economic growth and development. Having being recovered steadily from HIV/AIDS pandemic, Africa can improve its economic growth if they diversify their economies and concentrate on adding value to their raw materials to gain bargaining power.

In USA, the birth rate is 2.0 and this is a bit below replacement. While the English speaking American birth rate is 1.6, the good news is that the highest group of immigrants,Hispanic, have a birth rate of 2.7 which, coupled with diversity program, will help replace the baby boomers generation. This gives Latinos a stake in the bragging right of handling the problem of population growth in USA. With a growing Latino population, the need to learn Spanish becomes vital for American citizens. There may be a day in the close future when Spanish will become a second language in the USA or, worse still, the official language. The beauty of America exists in its growing diversity, a nation of immigrants, No wonder the quotation on the Statue of Liberty state, “Give me your tired, poor, your huddled masses”, representing America as a place of rest for the weary immigrants. Yes, America is a land of dreams and opportunities, and those who earnestly seek to achieve them, will one day achieve them no matter how long it takes.

Challenges are many and the agitations are rift. Barack Obama’s nomination appears to point to an inner restlessness in many American citizens for a change, and hope to see democracy actualize. Our desire, hope and aspirations are that we live peaceful lives where justice and mercy prevail. Indeed, leaders will come and go, and yet “unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”

God bless the World,

 
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