The American Dream is a passion that burns strongly inside those with a desire to learn and prosper. Because of the plethora of opportunities we have in America, the American Dream is a reality for many people today. The validity of the American Dream differs from person to person, depending on their dedication and worth ethic. Nevertheless, the American Dream is a reachable goal for everyone, however, whether or not it is achieved depends on the person.
What is the American Dream, and who are the people most likely to pursue its fulfillment? The American Dream has come to represent the attainment of countless goals that are specific to each individual. For example, one person might consider a purchased home their version of the American Dream, another might view it as the financial ability to run his own business. Clearly, there is no cut and dry definition of the American Dream. What it does universally represent, however, is the opportunity for people to seek out their individual desires under the political rule of democracy.
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The American Dream was made possible because of the abundance of opportunities given to us by the government and our economic systems. Living in America, we are very fortunate to have endless freedoms, which contribute to the validity of the American Dream. In the United States, we have a democracy, which ensures that the power lies within the people. Because of the privilege of having a democracy, we have opportunity after opportunity to climb the ladder of success. Many countries do not have a democracy, which provides us with the opportunity to fulfill the American Dream.
For example, China is a system that does not permit any freedoms that might challenge the control of the ruling Communist Party. They punish anyone who tries to do so. These issues are directly opposing American values. China’s government does not allow freedom of expression or association, peaceful demonstration or independent labour unions; it does employ detention and various torture methods. These make the American Dream impossible to exist (www.china.org).
I am surrounded by examples of the American dream fulfilled. For example, my father was born in Tehran, Iran. He went to a Jesuit school in Iranian till he was 17. In 1977, the Iranian government began to transform, causing many problems between governmental leaders and traditional religious groups in Tehran.
Because of this problem, all boys, age seventeen and up, were required to serve in the army as their civic duty. There was no option and no escaping this strictly enforced law. My grandmother did not want him to fight because he was only a child, so she decided to change the date on his birth certificate, making him look younger, and send him away. Without knowing the language, my dad bravely arrived in Cleveland. His first year in America was terrible, he did not speak the language; he could not get a job, which left him with no room and board. He would have to sleep on the streets some nights and would eat grass because of his starvation. However, instead of giving up, my father’s strong work ethic began to shine.
He taught himself basic phrases and eventually signed up for English classes, particularly for foreigners. Soon after he was able to speak English, he began to establish himself in the business world. My father started various businesses, which was a personal goal of his after his arrival in the United States. He worked hard, long hours and learned the tricks of business. He did not let other businessmen, who were more experienced than him, intimidate him; he kept on working and achieved success.
He was an immigrant with no money, family or knowledge of the American culture, but he worked for what he wanted. My father is a living example of the American Dream accomplished; he came with nothing and now has everything that is important to him. When I look around my house today, I am amazed at all my father has been able to provide for us. It is hard to imagine that when he first came to this country he had to eat grass because he had no food and now we have a refrigerator stocked full.
Similarly, In the book The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, there are examples of how the American Dream can be fulfilled. When coming to America, immigrants usually have a harder time achieving the American dream, but it is still possible. For example, when Jurgis accidentally attended a Socialist party meeting. He is transformed by what he heard from the speaker. He learned that the hard work and anxiety of his life was not destiny but a result of capitalist greed. Because of this, Jurgis realized that what was stopping him from achieving personal success and the American Dream were corporate monsters that take advantage of immigrants. “Here is a population, low-class and mostly foreign, hanging always on the verge of starvation and dependent for its opportunities of life upon the whim of men every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers; under such circumstances, immorality is exactly as inevitable, and as prevalent, as it is under the system of chattel slavery” (Sinclair 126).
Because of the brutal honesty that Sinclair used in The Jungle, he was able to stir up many prominent politicians, who would not only improve the meat industry but also help the availability of the American Dream. After President Theodore Roosevelt read The Jungle, he ordered an investigation of the meatpacking industry. He also met Sinclair and told him that while he disapproved of the way the book depicted socialism, he agreed that “radical action must be taken to do away with the efforts of arrogant and selfish greed on the part of the capitalist.” (www.ssa/gov) Eliminating greed in capitalism would help reduce tyrant companies who abuse their workers, making the American Dream an American reality for more people.
Because our government has changed significantly through the years, it is now easier for the average American to fulfill the American Dream. A letter from Work stated how the American Dream could differ from person to person. Juanita stated, “Ours [ferris wheel] is probably about forty-six years old and look how beautiful it is. We’re proud of it. Very proud of it” (Work 92). This is an example of the American Dream, a person who is enjoying their occupation. Within the context, Juanita has fulfilled the American Dream, because she is successfully happy with her job. This is a prime example of how self-rewarding the American Dream is to a person, regardless of how small the dream might be.
America’s immigrants come to this land with great hopes and dreams. Part of their hope is to escape the bonds of an aristocracy that concentrates political power and restricted economic opportunity for all but the highest class. The dream of many of our nation’s founders was that America would be a land where people were rewarded for their contributions and where all would have the opportunity to succeed. Today this dream has become more and more a reality, however, whether or not it is achieved is determined by one’s dedication to succeeding in life.
Not everyone will achieve the American Dream simply because laziness will become a large obstacle. As Upton Sinclair once stated: “The remedy is to give the workers access to the means of production, and let them produce for themselves, not for others, . . . the American way” (www.creativequotes.com). By this he means, without the interference of major companies and with new rules and regulations, such as Laissez-Faire and new laws protecting labourers, the American Dream has become more obtainable and tangible for all people.
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