What defines The American Dream? What makes it uniquely “American”? Who can pursue and fulfill this dream? People usually discuss these things when talking about The American Dream since everyone has a different opinion of what it is. Even though people might have varying definitions of what this Dream is, there are sure to be some commonalities between them. It does not matter who you are, or where you live, everyone has the right to pursue this Dream. The American Dream is to ultimately be content with your life and what you have accomplished, and that we should all have equal opportunities to achieve success.
Everyone has their own set of dreams, goals, and accomplishments they wish to achieve throughout their life. The American Dream consists of social and economic equality for everyone, and that people should be proud of the success they have achieved. For example, a current movement concerning the social aspects of The American Dream would be marriage equality. Similarly, in the economic aspect the government plans to provide jobless citizens with employment. A couple seeking marriage equality and a jobless citizen would consider themselves successful in their endeavors though their goals are diverse.
Everyone wishes to be successful in their own way, therefore they define success differently. America is known as the “Land of Opportunity”. People from all over the world are interested in coming to America because it is so well-known for the freedom and opportunities everyone can have access to. This largely stems from the first immigrants that came to this country, the Puritans. The Puritans left England to escape religious persecution, and to practice their own religion freely. They were the first “authors” or “speakers” of the original dream.
Specifically, John Winthrop, a Puritan author during the 1600’s, spoke of the Puritans becoming a sign of hope and freedom for others. In his work “A Model of Christian Charity”, he referred to the Puritans as a “shining city upon a hill”, showing that he wanted the colonists to be an example for the rest of the world. Over time, more and more immigrants came to America to find their freedom. The idea of an “American” Dream may have started out as only religious freedom, but today it has evolved into a dream of so much more.
The next group of authors of The American Dream was the Founding Fathers. The colonists of the new world were tired of being under the control of the British king, and felt as though their most basic rights were being infringed upon. They wanted to form their own country where everyone would have these rights no matter what; thus, the Declaration of Independence was created. Writing this document was treasonous, and the Founding Fathers knew they could be killed for writing it, but they thought these rights were important enough to risk their lives over.
One of the most famous lines from the Declaration of Independence is “…they are endowed…with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” The Founding Fathers believed that these three rights are guaranteed for every individual, and this belief is still in place today. Every American citizen has these rights which no one can take away from them. Part of The American Dream is to have these rights. They are the basis of one of the most important documents in American history, making them quintessentially “American”.
There is no other country in the world that has a written document guaranteeing these rights for its citizens. James Truslow Adams, an American writer and historian, said in his book The Epic of America, “… the American dream, that dream of a land…with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. ” The same opportunities one can find here might not be found in other countries. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women do not have the same rights as men. They do not have the right to vote and must have a “male guardian” who is in charge of them.
Everyone in America has the same rights no matter their race or gender. Even though America is known for having many opportunities for everyone, you cannot achieve anything without hard work. The chance to be successful is there, but everyone must work hard to become as successful as they wish to be. People from other nations are also drawn to America since it does not have a class system. Some countries like England and India continue to have a class system, limiting the success that people can achieve. A class system destroys any chance at equal opportunities.
People become successful based on the opportunities they are given and how hard they work at achieving their goals. If people are not presented with equal opportunities, they will not have equal chances at success. In America, everyone has equal opportunities; therefore they have the same chance at achieving their goals. The American Dream is available for anyone to fulfill regardless of race or background. The entire world is the “audience” of The American Dream. Anyone can pursue it as long as they set their mind to it and work hard to achieve it.
However, depending on what you believe, and what kind of person you are, you will define The American Dream differently from others. There is not only one version of the Dream that everyone believes in. As Rene de Visme Williamson, a Harvard graduate and the author of Politics and Protestant Theology wrote, “If the American dream is for Americans only, it will remain our dream and never be our destiny”. This quote shows that The American dream is for everyone despite their origin. If the Dream is limited for only Americans to pursue, it will never really be fufilled, and not be our “destiny”.
Over time, ideas about The American Dream change. During the 1920’s, the time period in which F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, many people thought of The American Dream as social mobility. It was possible to start off as a poor man, and become rich. Jay Gatsby, the protagonist, was a perfect example of this. He was originally poor, but became very wealthy and a part of the upper class. By this standard of The American Dream, he should have been happy and not wanted anything more in his life, but this was not true. He wanted to be with Daisy.
This shows that even though a majority of the people in that time period thought of The American Dream as being centered around money, it changes over time and varies from person to person. Even today, some say that The American Dream is to be wealthy and famous, or to have a large house. These things are not part of The American Dream. They are all materialistic in nature and not necessities in life. Is it not better to be proud of yourself, happy with your life, and loved, rather than being rich? The drive for success and hope for equal opportunities is a central part in the lives of many people all over the world.
Anyone can become successful and be happy with their lives as long as they work hard and put their best effort into it. Achieving The American Dream requires determination which is fueled by a commitment to your possible success. As President Barack Obama said in his 2012 election victory speech, “…we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard… It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try. ”