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The American Dream

The term “American Dream” was first coined by historian James Truslow Adams when he wrote The Epic of America. This book, written during the Great Depression, was a call for hope among American citizens at a time when the country was facing dire economic circumstances. Adams described the American Dream as a period and life characterized by democracy, prosperity, better living for future generations, and the attainment of happiness.

The American Dream is also closely linked to the Declaration of Independence which stated that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were everyone’s rights regardless of where they were born (Fink 56). Prior to the declaration, America endured decades of great inequality and exploitation by English colonizers which ultimately triggered the American Revolution. With America’s victory during the American Revolution War, the United States Republic was born. This victory was characterized by tremendous philosophical motivation for self –actualization and human empowerment. The American population, which comprised mostly of immigrants, was a symbol of new beginnings for everyone regardless of ethnicity and race.

On July 4, 1776, the American dream was born; a level ground was created for everyone to achieve their goals, improve their lives, develop integrity, pursue social integration, and attain happiness. The dream involved creating a permanent and intergenerational culture that ensured human productivity and national development through citizen participation, ownership, and diligent leadership (Cullen 45).

Today, America is widely regarded as the hub for the New World Order. This concept is being proposed by people whose agenda is to create a single global government and eliminate national governments. It promotes cohesion, equality, and human progression through the elimination of social, political, and economic inhibitors. Thus, the proposal contains a strong element of a new social order similar to the Americans were fighting for during the struggle for independence from British colonists.

Meanwhile, the American Dream has evolved significantly since it was first espoused during the eighteenth century. Today, it has become very personalized, such that it means different things to different people. However, the unifying factor in all the conceptualizations of the dream is reference to the pursuit of financial stability and social prosperity. For many people, the new American dream means attaining financial security, staying debt-free, achieving freedom, and ensuring a prosperous generational continuity (Bayles).

Meanwhile, many Americans continue to move to vibrant locations such as New York and Los Angeles in search of their “big break”. Today’s American Dream is best defined in terms of people who work hard, improve on themselves as individuals, acquire skills, and become the best that they can be. For them, focus is mostly on personal branding and talent development. In addition, the dream is being defined in terms of new aspects such as health, fitness, spirituality, and mental wellness. These aspects are widely regarded as the ultimate sources of happiness since they create the conditions necessary for the pursuit of accomplishments in other areas such as career growth.

For others, the dream means living a comfortable life. However, there are others who derive happiness by focusing less on money and more on leading a minimalist life that involves travelling the world, experiencing different cultures, and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. Nevertheless, one needs to be financially stable to travel around the world. Thus, the financial dimension of the dream will always be present. This explains today’s growing awareness on financial planning and prosperity. Many financial management consultancies have emerged that teach people how to maximize on their use of skills and talents to earn huge profits. Simultaneously, efforts to save as much as possible in preparation for financial stability during retirement has become a major component of the dream.

Unfortunately, many Americans have lost confidence in the American dream; they believe that it is nothing more than a fraud. Today’s political and economic conditions have become increasingly harsh, and this discourages people from prospering and achieving their goals. Poor living conditions and tough economic circumstances continue to force many Americans into debt and bankruptcy. Inequality in wealth distribution has made it almost impossible for Americans to compete fairly for available economic opportunities. The country’s wealthy ruling class has monopolized most industries. They have formed a close-knit network that strengthens their interests by restricting access to the best economic opportunities by poor Americans.

Moreover, racial and ethnic inequality has threatened to incapacitate this dream. For instance, racial discrimination is a leading cause of racial minorities’ restricted access to social amenities such as schools.. The new-age racism being experienced today is an evolution of the old and harsh version that has now become sophisticated leading to equally destructive effects. As a land of immigrants, America is comprised of the most ethnically and racially diverse population in the world. A strong component of the American dream entailed the creation of a nation in which a culturally diverse population could co-exist and have equal access to opportunities. For the victims of today’s growing inequality and racial discrimination, the American dream seems unachievable. For example, life is difficult for American students whose only way of accessing higher is via loans. Upon graduation, they are charged with the responsibility of paying back the loan at a time when they are still struggling to find a job. Consequently, most of these students are compelled to put personal growth on hold to repay student loans immediately they secure a job.

The income inequality gap has tremendously widened in the United States in recent times. The significant earning difference between America’s top earners and the middle- and lower-income earners has created an unfortunate situation in which chances of accomplishing the American dream are significantly diminished for a majority of Americans. The top earners comprise mostly industry leaders and entrepreneurs, most of whom have identified a niche market, exploited it, created exemplary products, and most likely monopolized these sectors. Although their efforts have led to the creation of numerous employment opportunities for many Americans in diverse sectors, it has also incapacitated growth for many middle- and low-income earners. Most of them continue to work under rigid systems that push them into debt and bankruptcy. In reference to this, the American dream is easily attainable to the rich few who control the capitalist bureaucracy, but remains a mirage for most low-income workers who have to struggle for survival on a daily basis (Surowieki). Consequently, upward mobility, which is an integral part of the American dream has become almost unattainable due to this inequality.

In contrast to this argument, some people insist that income inequality does not necessarily slow down upward mobility because these entrepreneurs are self-made businesspeople network or capital advantages who have worked and continue to dedicate a lot of time and energy to their businesses. (Blumenfeld). The same view is reinforced by the recognition of the fact that employment has grown very rapidly in America compared to other advanced countries such as Germany and Japan. However, income inequality does not directly slow down a country’s economy, and redistribution of wealth may not readily influence growth positively. Therefore, America’s top earners have not killed the American Dream; in fact, they have created numerous employment opportunities for their fellow citizens. Therefore, the lack of growth by the middle- and low-income earners is largely to lack of educational opportunities.

Evidently, tertiary education remains an integral component of the American Dream. Most of the Americans who actualize the dream are those who have gained access to high quality education particularly at the tertiary level. Fortunately, the American education system has truly been improved to the point where it accommodates students from diverse backgrounds regardless of race, ethnicity, and disability. However, the graduates it churns out have enough theoretical skills, but who are unable to apply creativity and innovation to contemporary workplace and real-life situations. It is for this reason that many middle-income earners continue to live a cycle of debt and average wages because they are unable to apply creativity to come up with their own niches. Luckily, the education system is undergoing rapid changes that encourage entrepreneurship, personal finance management, and the development of personality traits necessary for success.

Moreover, the economic recession that recently hit the United States has discouraged many people from pursuing the American dream. Today’s grim economic reality has slowed them down in their quest to achieve this dream. The financial instability and layoffs that occurred during this period had far-reaching consequences that continue to be felt today. The positive side of this sad reality is that the country’s economy is showing signs of recovery, albeit slow, and most sectors and households are gradually regaining their lost financial security.

Finally, the New American dream also includes the achievement of internal and external security for the welfare of citizens. The numerous security threats that the country faces are a threat to the actualization of the dream. This explains why the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre marked a new beginning for virtually all aspects of the American society. Most importantly, security became a conscious goal for every citizen, and massive funds are going into efforts to train the country’s security agencies on ways of enhancing security for every American.

For me, the American Dream is very much alive and within reach. It signifies the ability for self-empowerment and long-term accomplishment. Moreover, it involves making continuous progress every day and cultivating habits that can build an individual into a productive character (Rivlin 55). My vision for the American dream is for the country to focus on character development and moral values. America should strive to restore the values of honesty and integrity. Leadership and political systems need to be refined to become more transparent and less oppressive. My hope is to live in a country where cultural diversity is used as a tool for development rather than a basis for discrimination. Most importantly, I hope to live in an American society where lasting order is established and sustained for the benefit of future generations. I am confident that once this dream is accomplished, it will not only benefit the present and future American generations but also become a global ideal.

The founding fathers and all those who fought for the American Independence played a critical role in setting the foundation for the nation’s future prosperity. The ideals that guided their efforts greatly contributed to the emergence of the concept of the American dream. It is upon all American citizens to promote these ideals in order to foster knowledge, liberty, freedom, happiness, and prosperity for everyone. The dream is achievable if people not only believe in themselves and their abilities but also strive to improve their lives and those of others in society. Some of the challenges must be overcome for the dream to be actualized include income inequality, diminished educational opportunities, economic volatility, and insecurity.

Works Cited

Bayles, Martha. “How the World Perceives the New American Dream.” The Atlantic, October 10, 2015. Web.< http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/american-dream-world-diplomacy/410080/>

Blumenfeld, Sam. “Education and the American Dream.” The New American, November 19, 2014. Web.< http://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/19561-education-and-the-american-dream>

Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.< https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=yM96DK4ELZkC&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=The+American+Dream:+A+Short+History+of+an+Idea+That+Shaped+a+Nation&ots=mzTJUubu7u&sig=6uZmDASznRmuzh5GXTd83BNXO6M#v=onepage&q=The%20American%20Dream%3A%20A%20Short%20History%20of%20an%20Idea%20That%20Shaped%20a%20Nation&f=false>

Dubois, Gerard. “American Dream? or Mirage?” The New York Times, May 1, 2015. Web.< http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/03/opinion/sunday/american-dream-or-mirage.html?_r=0>

Fink, Sam. (2002). The Declaration of Independence. New York: ScholasticReference, 2002. Print.< https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=yy2cnKf1imYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=sam+fink+The+Declarion+of+Independence&ots=2RbQ3JEoTz&sig=mg0gz2vF8Be0SDQJFhy9_LEBofk#v=onepage&q=sam%20fink%20The%20Declarion%20of%20Independence&f=false>

Rivlin, Alice. Reviving the American Dream: The Economy, the States and the Federal Government. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1992. Print.< https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=5cthNDJWy6gC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=American+Dream:+Restoring+Economic+&ots=CnqlhoySnz&sig=E890rpL925bDXJv2NVYPErnhJhg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=American%20Dream%3A%20Restoring%20Economic&f=false>

Surowieki, James. “The Mobility Myth.” The New Yorker, March 3, 2014. Web.< http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/03/03/the-mobility-myth>

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