What is The American Dream? and is it Attainable?
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What is the “American Dream”? When people from oppressed lands hear America, they immediately think of jobs and freedom, an opportunity to begin a new life. They imagine a place in which the streets are literally paved in gold, and they dream of a country where everyone is treated equal. Immigrants envision a country where their children can attend school to obtain a proper education, and a country where their children will not go to bed with hunger in their stomachs. Also people view it as the faith held by any person that through constant work, courage and simple willpower one can achieve a life which they never thought possible. Many of these values were held by European immigrants and passed on to following generations.
What this dream has turned into is a topic of constant debate, leading many people to use the possession of material goods or wealth as a measure or pleasure or success. A prime example of this point is the new bumper sticker for cars which reads “Who ever dies with the most toys wins” honestly is this what people have come to? A race to see who can buy the fastest car, biggest house, or the newest designer clothes. If this is what the American Dream has turned into then people coming here from other countries to experience the prosperities of the dream are in for a shock.
Who are the people most likely to pursue its often elusive fulfillment? Indeed, the American Dream has come to represent the attainment of a multitude of goals that are specific to each individual. While one person might consider a purchased home with a white picket fence his or her version of the American Dream, another might regard it as the financial ability to operate his own business. Clearly, there is no cut and dried definition of the American Dream as long as any two people hold a different meaning. What it does universally represent? It’s the opportunity for people to seek out their individual and collective desires under a political umbrella of democracy. In the fifties, the ‘age of suburbia’, the American Dream was epitomized by the ability to own a home, live in safety and in a community of like minded souls.
The great exodus from the cities to the suburbs defined the American idea of the good life’. The American Dream was and always will be something that makes America great. It allows those with aspirations to make them come true. In America alone needs is a dream and the motivation to carry out that dream. Ambition is the driving force behind the American Dream. It allows any one that has an aspiration, a desire, a yearning, to carry out the individual dream. It knows no bounds of race, creed, gender or religion. It stands for something great, something that every one can strive towards.
While reading the book “The Working Poor” I started to feel bad and very uneasy for people coming to America to try and start a new life. It seems as though everyone that appears to be helping them is in reality trying to screw them from funds or money that they do not even have yet. Given the fact that many people that come here cannot speak or read the English language, people just should not exploit them to such degrees. I just don’t think that’s necessary. There are examples of this through out the book. Telling one woman she has a $9.00 cell phone bill a month then when she gets it, it reads $89.00. Another example was business’s telling most workers that they are better off to get paid under the table, and not telling them that they could claim it all and get money back in tax returns. Many of these people just want to be happy, somewhat successful, and to live their lives to the fullest. Coming to this country looking for success nobody thinks that they are following somebody’s well planned way. A single person or a small group does not create the notion of success, but it is created by our whole society. The myth of instant wealth is one of the most popular myths society uses. In fact society uses the hope of instant wealth to make people work harder. The fact that they do not have a real chance of obtaining that wealth by competing in the economic system stays invisible to the most of people.
My version of the American dream is quite simple: The American Dream is a lifelong goal that many Americans and immigrants strive for. Most parents dedicate their life to making sure their children will have it better than they did themselves as in my case being an only child. Having money, wealth, education, freedom, belonging, and love would be my family’s ideal dream. However, they probably put the most emphasis on money (tied to wealth & freedom, & derived from education), and love (tied to belonging). Of the two, money is probably the most important. My mother always told me that money can’t buy happiness but it sure can make life a little easier. So all in all my view of the American dream can be summed up in one line “Happiness is positive cash flow”. It symbolizes having a good job that provides me with plenty of money so I can have most of what I want in life. With a lot of hard work and perseverance, I think it would be possible to provide your children with a better life than you had. That goal, for some people is probably the only thing that keeps them going, and therefore is essential for the evolution of new & improved generations. For others, though, this dream is unimportant, outdated, irrelevant, and unreachable.
From the birth of America, to America today, the driving force and the heart of America has always been the “American Dream.” By looking at America today, the most powerful nation in the world, the dream has literally become a reality. The United States has always strived to be superior and it is today the most powerful nation in the world. The United States right now can not go much farther than it has already reached. If it tries to go beyond the dream, it could become a nightmare.