My Definition of the American Dream

September 20, 2010
Over the course of more than two centuries, global developments and modernized demands dramatically altered the traditional perception of the American dream. As the quality of life in America continues to improve, the values of the American dream continue to change on the basis of individual needs of different generations. Despite these adaptations, the essence of the American dream remains unchanged and well-established. When attempting to appropriately define the American dream, it is crucial to recognize the significance of equality and financial stability, as they are the foundation of this dream.

The notion of equality is inseparable from the American dream, because it establishes the groundwork on which this dream originated. In the early 17th century, the Pilgrims came to America in search for religious freedom. More than a hundred years later, the colonists defeated the British to establish self-government and equality for all. Equality is the basis of growth and prosperity, because it honors mutual respect and promotes cooperation. For those who gave up their lives in other countries to pursue the American dream, the idea of equality is particularly appreciated. Equality provides people of different backgrounds, capabilities, and cultures, an equal opportunity to strive for success and stability. As humans evolve, people start to realize that equality extends to all individuals regardless of gender, sexual orientation, and racial differences. Consequently, the sense of equality in the American dream has developed into its more complete manifestation. For instance, the 19th Amendment of the American Constitution recognized the right to vote of women, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 illegalized discrimination on the basis of racial differences. These two legislations are extremely important contributions to the preservation of the American dream, because they extended the values of equality to include the rights of all individuals. When everyone is treated equally under the laws, this leads to the elimination of conflicts, violence, discriminatory action, and injustice. When people exert appropriate effort towards what they strive for, equality facilitates their successes. Because of its importance, anyone who pursues the American dream must recognize equality as the first milestone of the journey.

Living in any period of time, financial success and stability have always been an integral aspect of everyone’s life. In an effort to encourage Europeans to follow the American dream through his Letters from an American Farmer, Crevecoeur describes an image of an American family whose needs are fully met. When Mr. Thomas Guerin shared his vision, he emphasized that a major characteristic of the American dream is being able to support oneself, one’s family, and one’s own property (Guerin). Even though they live in completely different time periods, Mr. Guerin and Crevecoeur hold a common belief that those who are able to provide the necessities for themselves and their families are indeed living the American dream. This proves that financial success is extremely critical in the pursuit of this dream. Although the parameters of the word “necessity” may vary in different families at different times, the essential idea of financial success applies in the American dream to all those who follow it. A family with a stable financial income is living the American dream because that family is able to enjoy life without frustrations and worries. When all basic necessities are available, the tendency for development is greatly increased, which will result in positive outcomes. Financial stability is, therefore, the first step on the ladder of success. Due to its long-term impacts to all American-dream followers, financial stability is a major component of the American dream.

As demonstrated, the American dream is clearly defined within the boundaries of equality and financial stability. These two constituents provide a firm and stable platform for pursuers to be the entrepreneurs of their own American dreams. Whatever the American dream means to a particular individual, that definition has its roots deep within these two ingredients. Therefore, equality and financial stability are bounded within the true definition that leads to all derivations of the American dream.





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