The American Dream
In the past the American Dream was simply described as an “attitude of hope” originating from The Declaration of Independence which states that “All men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights among which are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. ” Even today if you ask an individual what their view on American Dream is they might repeat those very words, but in Herbert Selby’s opinion it does not mean this at all. In Selby’s view the American Dream is seen as a negative force that is not only self-destructive mentally but that it ultimately destroys everything and everyone involved in it.
Historian James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase “The American Dream” in his 1931 book Epic of America. He wrote “The American Dream, that has lured tons of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material party though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. ” By understanding this quote I agree that Immigrants from other countries see America as a beacon of hope. Many countries in the past and still today are forced into poverty and are not able to get themselves out.
In Haiti the poverty corruption and poor access to education is one of the countries serious disadvantages. Two-fifths of all Haitians depend on the agricultural business, mainly small scale substance farming and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters. I feel that any citizen of Haiti in this intense poverty would love to have the same opportunities we are entitled too. The aspirations of “The American Dream” in the sense of upward mobility has spread to other nations since the 1890’s. Over time the views on The American Dream have been translated through numerous authors such as Sinclair Lewis and F.
Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald wrote a novel that became famous again recently. The Great Gatsby ridiculed materialism, it was based in the 1920’s about a man achieving what the American Dream was seen as in those times, after he can not get the girl he loves to love him in return he ultimately commits suicide. Some people base The American Dream on money leading you to happiness, yet Gatsby is extremely rich but not satisfied. I Relate this novel to the poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson because of the pedestal Gatsby and Cory are put on.
In the poem Cory is admired by fellow townspeople, In the poem he wrote “But still he fluttered pulses when he said ‘Good Morning’ and he glittered when he walked. ” The irony in both is that even though you are seen to have “everything in life” or have achieved the American Dream if you don’t have what truly makes you happy you will still be unsatisfied, also known as money does not buy happiness. As Americans I feel that we take advantage of the things that are handed to us here. I personally grew up in a middle class family. I was born into a house that my parents had owned and I attended private school all my life.
I did not have to work more then any other teenager with my family providing me food and essentials. Others though might not be so lucky, but either way with personal ambition anyone can strive to achieve. Americans now have government support for the tough times a family may face and even though the funding might not be much it is enough to keep them on their feet. Fundings such as Food Stamps, Section 8 Housing and the National School Lunch Program are provided for the lower class families that qualify so that many do not live in complete poverty.
Programs like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA provide a form that can be annually completed by students for government aid in the paying of their college tuition. By having free public schools America provides a quality education for those students who dream of academic achievement. The ACS provides the US Department of Education with the most comprehensive data on school enrollment. The information provides the school district with enough funds for each child’s education. Even some middle class families have a hard time putting their children through college easily.
In Selby’s critique he states “I have to keep getting stuff in attempt to appease and satisfy that vague sense of discontent that worms its way into me. ” Comparing that statement with Philip Slater’s “Want-Creation Fuels Americans’ Addictiveness” he explains that Americans “Naturally are restless, inventive and dissatisfied. ” In his opinion we look for a quick fix with immediate effects and a constant state of wanting. Proving that even if we achieve our own “American Dream” the constant wanting will never leave the satisfied sensation inside us.
In a way I do agree with Slater’s argument because as humans I believe that we are never truly satisfied with what we have. Even when we achieve our greatest then we are still emotionally dissatisfied. In the United States we are always trying to make things bigger and better, the newest cars the best jewelry americans will always need more even when they are financially secure. Providing the American Dream is just an imaginary goal for many, I do believe the American Dream is still physically able to achieve today, Although mentally I don’t think it is possible.
An American can have the house, the car, the job and the economic comfort but they will never see that as enough. Even though they have achieved all relative aspects in their opinion they are still growing. The American dream is definitely still alive and possible today a lot more then before. Besides Selby’s negative critique of the mental stress it puts on most in reality it depends on the individual. I feel that America is still the “Land of opportunity” for many and as a country we are growing each day.