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Does The American Dream Still Exist?
The American Dream is different for everyone, but it usually revolves around a few key principles. In the book The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams wrote that the American dream is:
“That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement…It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of fortuitous circumstances of birth or position” (p. 214-215)
Many would agree with James’ point of view, myself included.
The idea that life should be more than just sports cars and paychecks; a life where if you put in the hard work and show your capability, you will receive opportunities; where social order exists, and every man or woman will be treated equally without question.
This, my friends, is the traditional American dream.
So what ever happened to it? If you ask SOME people nowadays what the American dream is, most would begin their list with material things. The answer I hear the most is “A nice house, my own business, a couple cars, more money.” The list continues in that type of pattern…
This is America’s biggest problem. Over the years we’ve twisted the definition of the American dream.
We now interpret “life should be better and richer and fuller” a little to literally. We all want to literally be richer, hoping that it’ll make ourselves feel better and our lives more fulfilling.
In addition, the line “opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” is warped into everyone thinking they are entitled to whatever they want. YOU DO NOT RECEIVE SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT IT; you receive something from hard work resulting in stronger abilities, and you show that through your achievements.
While part of the beauty of the American dream is that it can be different for each of us, just remember..
In the words of The Notorious B.I.G. "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"and Talib Kweli "Nothing else matters more than friends and family. No doubt, that's how its gotta be"