Discover more from The International Correspondent
The American Dream vs The Iraqi Dream
America does not have a single culture, but still conveys a sense of unity rooted in the freedom and opportunities it presents; it’s not so bad for “Satan’s Land,” if you ask me.
I find it ironic that Iraqis still believe our land is blessed. Even those whose lives are particularly not blessed or comfortable still hold onto this idea that the soil beneath our feet is divinely laid. My uncle, for one, who has severe PTSD from God knows how many wars, still thinks Iraq is the greatest country in the world. I remember visiting him a few days before my flight to America. It was one of those end-of-times inferno hot days, you know, the ones that soak your clothes in sweat and make you feel as if you’re breathing in fire. The fan at my uncle’s house kept turning off due to power cuts from our national elasticity circuits, putting the might of the Iraqi government’s efficiency on full display.
My uncle wasn’t the man I remembered him to be. He tried to get up to greet me, but couldn’t muster the strength. Diabetes, blood pressure, and surviving a dozen battles had gotten the best of him. The uncle I found seated before me had become a shadow of his former self. His physical limitations notwithstanding, he was still just as strongly opinionated and stubborn as I remembered, and he wasn’t too thrilled about my upcoming trip. He told me that I will learn to appreciate Iraq once I've traveled to Satan’s land (America.) The land of the morally degenerate and home of gluttonous consumerism. I had no idea what he was on about, and honestly, I didn’t care. I was going to America, and no grumpy uncle was going to stop me.
You see, I grew up watching lots of American movies. I saw it all: the cowboy movies, the college movies, the America-is-the-center-of-every-world-catastrophe movies, and even a couple of movies where the heroes were dogs. It presented itself as a land of opportunity. As a result, I’ve always longed for more for my life than what is currently possible within the boundaries of Iraq. I’ve always wanted to live my American dream.
Despite the disparities and criticisms, the notion of the "American Dream" remains alive and well. It thrives on a foundation of hope and opportunity that the United States has long advertised to the world. The great experiment that is this country is embodied in the idea that anyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can achieve success through hard work and determination. It's the reason why so many people, like myself, are drawn to this country. It’s the belief that America is a place where one can break free from the constraints of social class, cultural boundaries, and political upheavals. And yes, this is still the case today.
I remember vividly stepping into the streets of New York for the first time. It was an overwhelming sea of languages, faces, pigeons, and unfamiliar smells. America does not have a single culture, but still conveys a sense of unity rooted in the freedom and opportunities it presents; it’s not so bad for “Satan’s land,” if you ask me. Shortly after arriving, I concluded my uncle had no idea what he was talking about. America isn’t evil; in fact, it filled me with hope when I realized that people can reach their true potential when granted the freedom to do so. Iraq (the cradle of civilization and all,) a little older than the United States, is no different. Given access to information and resources, we can catalyze the same transformative changes in Iraq, embrace Iraqi diversity, and pave the way for a brighter future.
This belief in a better life, this pursuit of happiness, is not uniquely American, but America has made it a central part of its national identity. It's a narrative that continues to inspire people around the globe and serves as a beacon of hope, propelling individuals like myself to make this move. Perhaps most importantly, my pursuit of the American dream led me to where I now work, Ideas Beyond Borders, which awakened an even more challenging dream within me. An Iraqi dream, a dream of stability and peace after decades of war and conflict, along with the restoration and prosperity of my home country. With hopes for a robust economy that provides opportunities for all, better infrastructure, a functional and fair political system, good healthcare and educational facilities, and above all, a safe and secure environment to live and raise families. For a long time, this was an impossible task. Today, I think we might just pull it off.
The International Correspondent is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.