Last night I took an Uber home from London to Brighton. That’s a ninety minute Uber ride for those of you who are uninitiated in how to effectively and thoroughly piss off an Uber driver.
This is one of the most effective ways.
Anyways, it was not only a long drive, but it was an awkward one full of one-man tirades against America and American dream. Every time he asked me a question about my country’s politics or the US’s role in the UN, I feebly tried to defend my paltry knowledge of complex Middle East resolutions, only to be strongly rebuffed by my driver. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a political debate as much as the next guy, but there’s only so much intense debate I can take at 3 in the morning.
Nevertheless, it was an awkward 90 minutes. I tried to go to sleep only to be asked my opinion of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and to be criticized for my lack of knowledge about Pakistani female fighter pilots. (It’s a real thing, which is really cool. Read more about them here).
But anyways, I was nothing more than a wreck of bones and knitted wool by the time I got home, my head reeling from the political tirade, and from my own embarrassment of not knowing enough about UN foreign policy than my driver. Not to say that my Uber driver can’t be smart or well-informed, but this is a common enough occurrence that my world politic knowledge is shown up by the guy behind the wheel that it’s quickly becoming my priority to re-educate myself.
When I woke up this morning, I found a note in my phone that said, “who does the American Dream belong to?” I have honestly no idea what it means. I wrote it down at one point during our conversation last night and then promptly forgot the significance. So now I have to dissect it from anew. Why did I write this phrase down and what did it mean for me?
The American Dream doesn’t belong to America anymore. It came from immigrant who settled here wanting a new start, and with very hard work, some of the luckier ones actually found it. But xenophobic anti-immigration mindsets have done nothing but try to exclude people from trying to come and pursue the American dream. But who does it belong to, anymore? Gatsby was a sort of symbol of the pursuit of the American Dream, in that he earned his money only to impress and win the love of Miss Daisy Buchanan. But he doesn’t win her love, does he?
He doesn’t win it because he conditions that she must declare that she never loved anybody but Gatsby, not even Tom. And even shallow, simple Daisy can’t do that. Even if she loves Gatsby, she did marry Tom and have a child by him. That counts for something, even in a world as petty and materialistic as East Egg.
This is a part we forget about, that maybe, if Gatsby had been a little more understanding and less demanding, he could’ve won Daisy’s heart. And maybe that’s what we should think about too, when we think about the American Dream. Maybe, if we try to keep other people from obtaining it, we run the risk of losing it ourselves.