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Reflecting On The American Dream

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The American Dream is viewed by our culture as specific to the individual and their desires in life. The American Dream is the ideal life, seen by all as the end goal they may all someday achieve regardless of one’s starting status. This was the main building block, a foundation of sorts for most everything we have today.

The American dream is very powerful. This dream is a “happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful”. The idea of the American dream came into play but famed historian James Truslow Adams in the year 1931 (Lewyn) but was rooted from Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of independence, “All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among there are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. I strongly believe that without this goal, America would not be where it is today. Adams didn’t intend for the American dream to be seen as a materialist goal but a goal of ideals and better life quality. This is clearly stated in The Epic of America, when Adams says it is a “dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.” (Adams). He then goes on to emphasize the non-materialistic aspect of it, “It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a 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 recognized by others for what they are”. “It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”

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Our everyday life depicts the idea of the American dream persistently. From television advertisements to viral music videos, everything tries to portray the general definition of the aspects that we view as important to happiness. Pop culture makes it out to seem that to be truly happy, which is the main goal of the American dream, one must have an abundance of money and a copious amount of fame and attention. If you really want to be happy, according to pop culture you must be the center of attention, your happiness arises from the admiration of others. Society’s mentality on the topic is strongly connected to this idea of acceptance, fame, and money. This very much directly contradicts Adams belief as this belief is solely about economical worth.

On the other hand, pop culture has had references that solely show the potential of the average American. Forest Gump, a movie which depicts a man who has below average IQ going to college saving his platoon in Vietnam and running across America without allowing obstacles to stop him is just one example. Other movies include but are not limited to The Social Network, The Pursuit of Happiness, and The Great Gatsby.Even though Adams might not have agreed with the all men are equal idea that the founding fathers had, he and the founding father did agree on true freedom and power to the people. There are many amendments that represent the founding fathers American dream : “

  1. Congress shall make no law respecting religion, or prohibit the free exercise of religion.
  2. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon.
  3. All persons have a right to a fair, speedy trial.
  4. The states have all powers – except those few delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution.
  5. President and Vice President are to be elected by the Electoral Process.” …In the Constitution of the United States.

These are all mentalities that do not involve actual money or fame gains so they best fitting to Adams dream for America. The American dream is a very abstract vision, unique to one’s own goals and beliefs. The original idea was very vague and in that vagueness, very detailed. Adams stated it was the idea of better lives and happier lives without just having more tangible things. This statement doesn’t directly say that it can’t be all tangible or all emotional or social, etc.


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