Rage Against the Machine Day 30 by Hugo Groenendyk

The American Dream Needs an Update

by Hugo Groenendyk of Arrowreport


The American Dream for most is a well-paying job, a nice suburban house, a big shiny car, big plates of food, a nuclear family. This sounds ideal and what everyone has been told to strive for. If you don’t attain these sought-after achievements, you are looked down on as a lower class in society. Humans are prone to judging others based off what they own, what they can get, who they control. This is such a destructive way of thinking.

These images of success are ruining the ideals of the American Dream.

The American Dream does not mean getting a big house and a big car. The American Dream is that everyone is afforded the same opportunity, a fair chance to do what you want with your life. If you want to work hard and earn a lot of money, you can do so. What you chose to do with that money is up to you. The fundamental truth of the American Dream is that everyone who wishes to make an impact and contribute to society can.  It is about the ability to create something and add value.

Though, this is where it has been corrupted. Now people have turned themselves into slaves of the manufactured dream. “I’ve got to get a big house, and work hard to get a fast car so I can earn the respect of others.” It is a manifestation of the consumerist plague that is ailing our race. This desire for stuff has taken over all facets of our lives.

The typical American Dream is destroying our environment. Through consumerism, urban sprawl, and animal agriculture, the desires of American capitalism are wreaking havoc on the planet.

Through the products we covet and buy, we have produced mountains of waste and packaging. Forests have been cut down and the insides of the ground ripped up to produce the things we want. Natural environments are torn down and covered up with concrete to produce the affordable housing for everyone that thinks they need a massive home. Hundreds of millions of acres are used to produce the meat that is so common in an American diet.

There are examples of real ways to change and reevaluate the way you live. Some examples of this are below.

Minimalism, a philosophy that has been gaining traction as a reaction to the utter overload of things in our lives. This style of living emphasize downsizing and removing the excess stuff in one’s life. This applies to environmentalism because as consumerist tendencies drive exploitation of resources to make the things we buy, minimalism teaches one to value what they already have.

Tiny Homes, which are exactly what they sound like, enable people to live within their means. Most people don’t need a large apartment or house and Tiny Homes provide everything they need while using fewer resources and take up less land. They have grown in popularity as a way to reduce costs, reduce environmental impacts, and to live a simpler life.

Veganism, eating an entirely plant-based diet, is perhaps the most impactful thing that humans can do to reverse climate change and protect the environment. The detrimental effects of animal agriculture are things that need to be talked about and addressed. Hundreds of acres of rainforests are chopped down every day to make room for cattle farms. The manure and runoff from these farms emit carbon and methane into the atmosphere and pollutes waterways.  Furthermore, it is now backed by the support of doctors and nutritionist that humans live healthier and longer lives on plant-based diets.

As many struggle to the make the American Dream a reality, remember to take a step back. There are alternative ways to live a satisfying life while causing less of a destructive environmental impact.



Hugo Groenendyk is from Winter Park, Fl and is a senior at the University of Central Florida. Having grown up spending the majority of time outdoors Hugo is very passionate about protecting the environment and finding sustainable solutions. He likes to spend his time surfing, gardening, and following politics.



Contributed to Rage Against the Machine Month.  If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more information Here.   But first, leave a comment and let Hugo know what you think about his words, and be sure to visit him over at Arrowreport when you’re done.


About the author

I am a King without a Kingdom, in a world with many masters, wrapped in the spoils of a jealous heart, and my people’s callous laughter.


  1. This is a perfect ending to our Rage Against the Machine series, as we all have to take a look at ourselves and our desires and the things that we’re going after, and think about are those things that we really care about or are those manufactured dreams to keep us going after unattainable things, while we put off ever being happy with what we do have, and helping to make the world a better place for everyone. Thanks so much for adding your voice to the series and closing us out in style!

  2. Thanks for sharing this information on Rage Against the Machine. The issues and solutions you raise are so important. I used to lead a workshop in which I had everyone imagine taking everything out of their house and putting it into a gigantic stack outside. Then I had them imagine how much weight all of those belongings added to their lives. Prior to doing that exercise I had them make a stack of all the garbage they created in a year and all of the natural resources they used. Then they compared their stack to the stack of a nomad’s. Using the contents of a tiny house as a comparison would be powerful too.

    Many people had garage sales after taking that workshop.

  3. Indeed. We have a 2200 square foot home, which as our two sons grow and leave, becomes far too large for us. The garage is filled with stuff accumulated over the years. The office is as well. We have a pool nobody uses and all sorts of space we really just don’t need anymore. My solution to this — downsize now. My wife’s solution – more stuff!! You mention a tiny home — that would be my dream as I approach retirement in a couple of years because I want my life then to not be about things but about experiences. I want my home to be the place where I sleep and eat, but the rest of my day I want to be out in the world.

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