The American Dream

Brazil has great potential to hold a position as a world leader. The prospects for middle class growth is significant. There are ample resources. Culturally, they are cool – they can dance, create great music and produce incredible athletes. There are a lot of Brazilians to idolize. (I believe there is a correlation between the cool factor and world domination. Throughout history, the powers that be – Rome, Egypt, France, etc. – were admired for their culture. This applies to unfortunate periods of world leadership as well, for example, Hitler gained followers because he was charismatic – Castro too. It’s why China will never really get a grip on it. Please, no offense to my Chinese friends and readers, but when’s the last time you heard a Chinese hit that you could dance to. And that “one child” law – not cool. No cool leaders coming out of the country either. Know when the U.S. really took a turn to drive the globe? When JFK was President, probably one of the coolest world leaders to date. Alas, )

But one of the factors that is going to hold Brazil back is also cultural. There is a ruling class here and it’s made up of the wealthy. Nepotism runs amuck. This means that the decision making layer of the country is metaphorically “fat and lazy.” There is very little motivation for a rich kid to work his or her butt off to develop new technology or new ideas. And they only way a middle class or poor kid can get ahead is if HE can play soccer.

The recent death of Steve Jobs (sob!) highlights the impact of a society that allows for the American Dream. Steve came from a middle class background, didn’t finish college, yet went on to create multiple businesses that changed the world as we know it.

Two of my favorite college commencement speeches, speeches that outline how possible it is to achieve your dreams, given the right societal structure,  were conducted by Steve Jobs and J.K. Rowlings. Of course, J.K. Rowlings is British, but Britian is another society that has allowed for talent to rise to the top. And the U.S. certainly contributed to the incredible distribution and sales of the Harry Potter series and the author’s unprecedented success.

For the Brazilians who aren’t familiar with the hope and blind faith of the American Dream, and for those Americans who need a reminder, I’ve included both speeches below (J.K.’s is in two parts):

There’s is also something to be said for having a sense of humor. When’s the last time Hu Jintao told a joke? (A real one.)

But maybe I’m just an ignorant American. Would love to hear some counter arguments on the subject.

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4 Responses to The American Dream

  1. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for posting those videos here…I may have never gotten around to watching them on my own and they really were fantastic!!

  2. scrubgrub says:

    Our first hire here was a middle class individual as they spoke English and we felt they could help us… their work ethic was definitely not the same as someone at a lower class ranking, and drove me up the wall. I get that it’s a generalization, but it’s the same way in the US, the rich kids aren’t as motivated as the poor kids (yes there are always exceptions). Except at least in the US (as poor as it is) the education system is still able to give lower class individuals opportunities. Even though a poor kid can pretty much go to school for free here, the education and learning they receive in Brasil is nowhere on par with the level that is in the US Schools.

    • In the U.S., I’ve met so many people that came from nothing, but worked very hard and made it big. I’ve never heard that story here. Of course, I haven’t interviewed everyone in the country either, but I feel like in the U.S. it is culturally acceptable for someone who came from nothing to get a great job or create a great business and be successful if they work really hard. Hard work is respected in the U.S. over who you know and who your family is – in most cases (maybe not in politics). Makes you wonder the the return would be if the cultural equation in Brazil was adjusted just a bit.

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