“All men are created equal” with the right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This statement from the Declaration of Independence created the roots of the American Dream.
But this concept was really made popular by James Truslow Adams in his book “Epic of America,” published in 1931.
“That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement,” stated Adams.
But what is today’s definition of the American Dream according to students?
“I define the American Dream as a dream that can be possible only if one applies themselves. It just means there are opportunities,” stated Shoichi Lijima.
“The dream is the idea that any American or any immigrant can live freely, work for what they own, and be treated respectfully within the community to which they contribute,” stated Castro.
“Personally, I define the American Dream as whatever leads a person to lasting happiness. It’s not the same for everyone,” stated Mark Martinez.
It’s clear the dream progresses and changes throughout the years alongside the economic and social issues of the country.
“The American Dream is just a generation’s way of dealing with the most pressing problem in their lives,” stated Martinez.
The classic post-war dream was having a family and material prosperity. It was the idea of “living in a suburban house in a middle-class neighborhood with 2.5 kids, a spouse, and a dog,” stated Martinez.
“The classic American Dream, in a modern-context, represents a nostalgic fantasy that doesn’t belong to my generation,” added Martinez.
“For my generation, we’ll probably consider the American Dream to be getting a college degree and living happily-ever-after with a nation-crashing student debt,” added Martinez.
For some other people, the concept of the American Dream is more global.
“It’s a pretty deep notion of individuality within society while still pursuing personal endeavors,” stated Castro.
It’s also an attitude towards life’s twists and turns. It’s believing you can become anything you want with hard work.
“I was taught to think this way, to have an attitude that I could be me without the constraints of whatever situation I was born into,” stated Castro.
I asked some students if they believe the dream has changed.
“I think it changed more to something from a goal to an actual dream,” stated Lijima.
“Without a doubt, the classic American Dream is dead. I’ve seen it die through my parents and grandparents.
It’s changed, 100%,” stated Martinez.
I’ve only been here four months, so I might be wrong, but I don’t think the American Dream exists anymore.
When I see, for example, the cost of education here, I wonder how anyone can think this country is based on equality.
I come from a country where it’s the complete opposite. Higher education is free in France; it’s a right that everyone has.
While not everyone still believes in the American Dream, I do believe in working hard to achieve your goals, and not just in America.