By Nicholas Allanach
When author Stephen King wrote his first best-selling book, Carrie, he worked as a janitor in a high school, lived in a trailer (which he could barely afford), and scraped together change for food and diapers for his newborn baby. King stayed up all night writing, fueled by the hope that one day he’d pull himself up from out of his destitute situation. Eventually, he did just that. This is the proverbial American Dream in action; it is yet another rags-to-riches fable that continues to inspire so many of us to hang-on to what little hope there is left in this miserable world. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Poverty affects people in different ways. Obviously, for every Stephen King who spent sleepless nights at the typewriter, there are countless others who take up a life of illegal activity to support themselves. While walking through my neighborhood (Spanish Harlem) I cannot help but sympathize with the conditions of the many poor people around me. Certainly, there are options for the young men I see standing on the corner everyday getting into fights, dealing drugs for cash, or selling candy bars on the train; however, one would need to convince themselves of a preposterous lie if they really believed these young men had the same opportunities as others in more beneficial situations.
Take myself for example, although I am working class (i.e. have had a job since I was fourteen and seem to be in a state of perpetual debt despite my forty-hour-plus-work-week) I have had many opportunities that others have not. I went to a private boarding school, made it into and out of college (successfully), and (if I’m ever really reduced to the dire straits of pinching pennies and worrying about eviction notices) I do have a father who (has also worked very hard in his life) to help me if I need it in an emergency. For these things I am fortunate.
Thus, this week New World would like to thank my father Ronald Allanach for bailing me out of this wretched month of bills, legal fees, and cold-hearted landlords. When I was young I used to think he was “cheap” (and perhaps he is a bit of a bargain shopper); however, I know that for all those times he chose to go without it was only to save up and be ready for all the bullshit financial problems this life inevitably throws at us.
I will never regret being working class. In fact, although it would be certainly nice to not worry about where I’m going to get money for a new Metro Card or what excuse I will need to come up with to tell my friends I can’t go out for a few pints because of a lack of cash. I’m proud I’ve had to work to get what I want and where I am. The American Dream is not a hand out. The dream doesn’t come true for the “care-free-kids” who’ve always had the money to do whatever they want. Make no mistake, freedom isn’t about doing everything you want; it’s about being able to afford to do everything you want. Nevertheless, one can appreciate this freedom all the more when they know they’ve earned every dime of it.