Essay on American Dream

Published: 2021/11/04
Number of words: 2591

The idea of the American dream revolved around achieving success in America through individual skill and continuous hard work without any restrictions or obstacles. However, there are many versions or interpretations of the American dream. This inspiring idea of success is indirectly developed and deeply rooted through various renowned literature in the early days of America. Thomas Jefferson in the year 1776 powerfully argues in the “Declaration of Independence” to form a separate government for the people of America which will be free from British autocracy to protect the “Absolute rights” of the people of America to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas). The prominence of this great thinking is based on the fact that American people have the right to be free, live, and avail all the opportunities to be happy, and this is an integral part of the definition of the “American dream.” Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin provides progress of Franklin’s career in Philadelphia as a painter that stresses self-reliance, determination, and perseverance during the difficult time (Franklin), which undoubtedly contributes to the idea of the “American dream.”

The American dream is a matter of ambition, well above “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas). In the book ‘The Epic of America,’ an American writer James Truslow Adams states, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Adams). This statement, in particular, proves that the American dream is about better standards of living and achieving the dream together and with everyone; it also condemns the greediness in American society. The foundation of American society is based on the inception of America, competition, success, and the revolutionary idea of the American dream. If the history of the American dream is to be replicated, then it is obvious to see its transformation from the ideal of hard work and happiness to the distorted concept of wealth. Although the hope to capture “city on a hill” (Winthrop) was fortunately anticipated by America’s forefathers, it was distinctly presented within the idea of the American dream for each American. However, the idea of the American dream is for all the people across the globe who want to become part of this dream and not solely restricted for America.

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The idea of the American dream embraces the different spectrums of the economic cycle within America. The dream realizes different values such as self-fulfillment, hard work, and the potential to achieve a better life irrespective of the background. The idea of the American dream varies depending on the person, such as what it has become and how to achieve it. Therefore, the existence of the concept of the American dream has been presented and defined with well-known phrases such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Thomas) and “There are no gains without pains” (Franklin), and “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Adams).

The question of “What is an American?” lingers in the mind of many people, and the pursuit of finding an answer leads to an understanding of its diverse culture, its reputation, and one of the influential societies in the world. Being American goes beyond the definition in the literature, its geographical location, and merely gaining of an American passport. It is more than a legalized citizen of the country; An American is a person or a community that shares the idea and the vision of a better society, a dream that provides equality, liberty recognized by the founding members of America as they created the Declaration of independence. Despite the difference in language and ethnic appearance, Americans continue to prosper until now only due to the belief in liberty, impartiality, and the determination to succeed (Schwarz). The population within America contains a wide range of migrant ethnic groups. These groups were migrated in search of better life and opportunities to prosper. The land America has been called the “land of the Free”; therefore, people around the globe have migrated, including early settlers during the time of Columbus and early ancestors settled in America from neighboring parts such as Mexico. In addition, people have migrated from the far east such as South East Asia. These immigrant settlers have established their cultural values and identities around the American culture and traditions. They have accepted the American culture as their own, and it is more than enough abilities and characteristics to be defined as a person or a community as an “American” (Schwarz).

A reporter from the New York Times surveyed for the project “The way North” and asked the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” to almost 35 people. Some of the Answer gives the glimpse of an “American” and “Culture of America” (Damien). According to retired teacher Mr. Sharp, 73, from Kansas, respecting the neighbors and following the land rules is an American. José, a Mexican born and living in Tulsa says, being an American is about work hard to achieve good things in life. According to Natalie Villafranca, 14, from Texas, an American is a person who believes in change for betterment. American is always welcoming in nature, caring, merciful, and immensely proud of the country. Forty-year-old Sean Larkin, a sergeant at, Tulsa Police department, says, An American is a person who is always protected by the law, extreme freedom of speech, criticize the views of others without hesitation, and that the freedom, an American dream. Being an American is being free; the race, language, looks don’t matter. If you are born in America, you are an American, says Sebastian de la Cruz, 12 years old student from San Antonio, the same student who gained attention and criticism as he sang the national anthem in the mariachi outfit during 2013 NBA games. According to R. Taylor, 13 years old, America means land of science and expressed that all the girls should be a part of science when she spoke her ambitions during March for Science in 2017 (Damien).

One of the prominent traits of being an American is living in a society with different ethnic backgrounds and bilingualism. The different ethnicities positively influenced the American culture migrated to America. The migrants are also bringing their native language. Bilingualism is encouraged in most American schools. The school, therefore, enforces one more language to learn along with English; Language could be Chinese, Spanish, French, or Japanese. Bilingualism is a positive indication of the flexibility and unity required and comes from a diverse society—additionally, the belief in equality and the freedom fight that stands out the American from the rest. Compared to other communities and cultures, Americans tend to be more liberal and vocal in their nature. Despite the differences in ethnicity, language, and origin, Americans have found ways to deal with the “Nation of immigrants” as all the settlers, immigrants have contributed to the American heritage, culture, and society. This diversity has been cherished and celebrated today in American food, arts, science, business, politics, and the faiths. American, along with diversity, shares the idea of America that exceeds individual differences (Skorton).

The ideals of the American dream have transformed from the idea of hard work, freedom of speech, and liberty to the purchase of all the modern luxury items and accessories, such as television sets, cars, education for at least one child. The invention of television has contributed to the transformation of the American dream as the achievement of materialistic property. Americans have started dreaming of having life portrayed in the shows such as “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best.” Due to this transformation, many Americans have started to fuel their “Dream” with credit cards, which has negatively affected the state of the American dream. Keeping up with the American dream has become a costly affair as more people have started using credit cards to purchase goods and accumulated heavy debts. Unfortunately, many Americans endeavored for the lives of television programs. Savings become unnecessary as the lives on the television sets are becoming an unrealistic reality for Americans.

Americans have started to believe that the American dream could be purchased on a Credit card. The mortgage crisis of the early 21st century affected many people, losing their lives that they would have worked so hard to achieve. Many people have started to believe that the American dream is the liberty of few, such as extreme material wealth, like movie stars and professional athletes. Owning a home and owning land is no longer a dream for an American. Transformation of the American dream from ideals to expense has happened as the definition in the people’s minds changed over the time, cause owning a luxury and most expensive car, expensive clothes was a new trend. Therefore, only a few people can afford the American dream according to the new definition. Many Americans have struggled to feed their families during the recession time. In addition, good schools and amenities are unaffordable to the working class and only attainable to the wealthiest Americans. The situation seems worrisome as many Americans could not afford the things that they once had. The American youth find it very difficult to surpass their parent’s success. There is a contradicting belief that the American dream is impossible now as the Americans have more than their past (Gale). This results in the gap between the rich and poor; here, the poor is the person who does not afford the things he dreamed of, such as home, land, car even after he has worked for it. This gap results in disharmony amongst the people of America. Rich people discriminate against the poor, and the poor hate the rich person.

On a similar line, the recent political tension during the election of 2016 has started the discrimination against the immigrants that resulted in disharmony. Immigrants have started to show their protest against such discrimination raising the tension in the country. This scenario is surprising as America is regarded as “the land of immigrants.” Several terrorist attacks in the past two decades have stirred the American community from its core and one of the most critical events to disharmonize the countries ethos. In addition to that, transformed definition of the American dream has somewhat restricted people from different communities to come together and share their cultural values, for instance, what is the point of learning Arabic, or Hindi, or Chinese if you will never talk with the people from the middle east, India or China for that matters. This behavior of the different communities within America restricts an opportunity to learn and share valuable thought processes, which is America’s founding stone (Gale).

Many Americans fear that the American dream is dead, but it is not over; the concept of the American dream has changed from the idea of improvement of everyone’s life through hard work to everyone is getting rich and millionaire through almost no work. This change of the concept of the American dream has become the cause of disharmony amongst the people of America. One of the better solutions to overcome the challenges that cause conflict amongst the society is prioritizing the needs. The prioritization will help the people afford all the things they require; this will help them have an affordable home, transportation, education for their children in good schools. This will reduce the gap between the wealthy, middle class, and the poor. This will be the first step towards lowering conflict. Reestablishing the cultural ties within the communities where it has been disengaged will rejuvenate the lost ethos of the American foundation. This will eventually reduce the cultural barriers and various protests against each other and improve harmony within America. The efforts should be made to achieve the American dream, including different communities, religions, and ethnicities; this will help improve trust and stop illegal and terrorist activities. It is necessary to recognize the idea behind the American dream; the dream conceived by our forefathers was inclusive of all communities, races, ethnicities and not exclusive. Also, the dream is about improving the lives of all the people with hard work and not only through swiping the credit card and accumulating debt. Life is about changing the stations and strive for more (Tyson).

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The founding fathers of America strived for independence from British rule, and they declared their independence from the autocracy of the British government as they believed in the absolute rights of the people of America. The foundation of the American dream has deep meaning and is rooted back in the beliefs of forefathers that “people inherently possessed the right to life, the pursuit of happiness and liberty.” Ancestors of America tried to create a country free from any discrimination, restriction and gave Americans the ability to pursue the life they chose despite the situations of birth. However, the literature search and different scenarios show that the American dream has changed over time. Although, the feeling of being an American is still alive in the modern era. The people who want to migrate to America need to pursue citizenship, or at least valid documentation is required. America has remained a country of diversity irrespective of the physical change. Therefore, America has the potential to restore its humble beginnings and its true initial values and aspiration to make “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” the right that will lead to the real possession of every American. If Americans believe that happiness is the way to any success, then it is possible to reconstruct the golden era, the world once said, “City on a hill” (Winthrop). Technology has made the American dream to be more competitive, keeping the ideals of true happiness intact.

The American dream is about satisfaction or fulfillment and not only about monetary achievement. If the Americans were more focused on life based on the contents rather than the amount of money, then the idea of the true American dream would become a reality in the modern era. Through the hard work, persistence, dedication, and aspiration of the forefathers, the American dream has escaped the darkest period in history and proved successful in the 18th century. Pursuing the American dream’s ideals will help achieve success in life and rejuvenate the lost harmony within the country.

Work cited

Adams, James Truslow. The Epic of America. 1931. Print.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. La Vergne: Dreamscape Media, 1793. Print.

From, Noah. “The American Dream A History About Credit.” Lunds universitet Statsvetenskapliga institutionen (2012): 1-10. Print.

How the American Dream Has Changed Over Time. Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2016. Student Resources In Context Accessed 16 Nov. 2018.

Krugman, Paul R. The Conscience Of A Liberal. New York, NY: Norton., 2009. Print.

Schwarz, Eric. “Realizing The American Dream: Historical Scorecard, Current Challenges, Future Opportunities.” A Gathering of Leaders: Social Entrepreneurs and Scale in the 21st century (2018): 1-10. Print.

Skorton, David J. “What Does It Mean to Be An American Today?” Smithsonian Second Opinion. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 Nov. 2018.

Thomas, Benjamin Franklin. Celebration by The Inhabitants Of Worcester, Mass., Of The Centennial Anniversary Of The Declaration Of Independence. Worcester: Printed by order of the City Council, 1876. Print.

Thomas, C. “Is The American Dream over?” Townhall. N.p., 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2018.

Tyson, Lois. Psychological Politics Of The American Dream. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1994. Print.

Winthrop, John. John Winthrop Dreams Of A City On A Hill. 1630. Print.

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