Looking at our American Dreams. What’s your dream for ’09?

 Janus faces
O
ur discussion this week of the Top Values Stories of 2008 has a Janus-like quality – looking back and looking forward. Janus, a deity in Roman mythology, was able to see the past and the future, both beginnings and endings.
    Looking back, we marked our economic crisis – its causes, contours and consequences – as one of the top stories of 2008. It’ll be a top story this year, too. But top stories for 2008 also were forward-looking, hopeful stories about the possibilities of positive change.
    For example, Allan Schnaiberg cited Obama’s election as a top story in part because of its hopefulness: “I agree that the Obama election is a top story for 2008.” (See Tuesday’s post on OurValues.org.) “More importantly, it is clearly the top exemplar of a good story, filled with hope. … Even though the recession/depression is deepening, I awake each day with hope for positive social, economic, and environmental change.”
    Yesterday, Susie said, “I hope that with this first day of 2009, our country reflects back on the many mistakes of 2008 and realigns itself with the core values of this country: Respect for God, spouses, children, family and those less fortunate.”
    “So maybe it’s just as well that the crisis is finally upon us,” write Sarah van Gelder and Doug Pibel in Yes! “Maybe this time of creative destruction offers us the chance for a fresh start, a chance to build a society that puts ordinary people first and provides the conditions for their happiness. … Maybe we’ll learn to share the work and reclaim time for the aspects of our lives that research tells us contributes to real happiness—time with families and friends, civic involvement, exercise, creativity. And painful as it may be in the short term, we can emerge from this crisis healthier and wealthier, with the sort of wealth that really matters: strong communities and relationships with loved ones, healthy ecosystems, and the skills to make a living and enjoy life.”
    Allan Schnaiberg offered an apt label for this kind of American Dream: “social warming.”
    What do you think?
    As we round the cusp of 2009, do you see real possibilities for a different kind of American Dream?
    What should our American Dream look like in 2009?

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