Redefining the American Dream

Here’s a semi-pessimistic, semi-patriotic, 5th of July something to indulge. 

As we wrap up the Independence Day weekend, I took some time today to think about my roots and the reason my family chose to immigrate to the US from China eight years ago. Their motivation was never questioned, it was just a route that many people they knew they took, nothing exactly exactly out of the ordinary, it was a collective goal. I came to the conclusion that much like the pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago, we all came to this land for freedom, for the American Dream. But just how much has the America Dream changed?

The origin of this concept of the American Dream can be traced back to as early as the 1600s, when the pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and later established the thirteen colonies. They came to America in hopes of gaining land, freedom, and happiness. They aspire to have social mobility and escape the class restrictions which their homeland confined them with.

As the United States began to blossom into a larger, more powerful, developed, and awe-inspiring nation, the goals and appeal of this country began to change as well.

In the age of consumerism, American became more materialistic and held higher standards than ever before and so did the American Dream. Rather than the aspiration of owning land, which no longer became enough, some Americans began to aim for mansions, sport cars, receiving the best education money can buy. Happiness and freedom is no longer the common goal, but rather living the lives of movie stars and billionaires, a life so rare only few live it, is.

The American Dream is redefined in such a way that some don’t even have to work hard, or even work, to achieve it. These individuals live through a system in which money is given to them whether through their bloodlines, or through the sweat and blood of others but not themselves. While other hand, the struggle to fulfill the American Dream is becoming increasingly difficult for a large group of individuals  as they’re becoming homeless, unemployed, or discriminated for their color, race, belief, or sexual orientation which is becoming a major defining factor of who they are in society.

According to the ever so reliable Wikipedia, the America Dream is defined as “a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.” As evident in recent controversial events, there are exceptions to this definition. Not everyone has the ability to succeed, sometimes it’s not even because of their inability to work hard, but rather the conditions they were born into and could not change that became the definition of themselves in society. As pessimistic as this seems, is anything possible if you work hard enough? 

Is the American Dream dead? Of course not. It is only being redefined by the growth, and at times, flaws, of the United States. The concept has changed due to the amount of material one can possess and the confinement that is blocking one from being successful. The dream is still possible to fulfill, except that it is easier or much more difficult for some than others.

All the love.


Photo credit:

SuperStock/ Getty Images (Featured image)

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