The American Dream is an intensely debated subject, and here I wish to add my own thoughts, at a time when America and the world beyond seem more fluid and ever changing. With this project I address the three distinct questions that continue to circle around the American Dream: What is the American Dream? Has it changed? And, Does it still exist?
What is the American Dream?
The American Dream is officially defined as: “the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved”. Whilst it once was itself dreamed up within a land that promised much to those seeking a better life, since then it may be that the American Dream has been somewhat of a contradiction, where the nation's staggering economic success has often been contrasted against a backdrop that includes too many citizens languishing in poverty and without medical care. Yet research finds many Americans to be passionate about the American Dream. And for millions of others the American Dream is to believe in the possibility of self-betterment. Of upward mobility. And of leaving behind more for their children then they could have ever dreamed of having themselves.
Has it changed?
Time, as they say, waits for no man: dreams and goals, and the society by which they are dreamed up and set are ever evolving. Indeed, by the very nature of an advancing society, no definition of success will ever remain fixed, and this includes what the lands of the most diverse population on the planet. In this respect the American dream has most certainly changed, and will continue to, for ever more. For many people today, the American Dream can be measured by material wealth, whereas, for others it is defined by happiness, wellbeing and the ability to make choices for one’s own destiny.
Does it still exist?
Despite the debates that surround what may be a polarised nation of rich and poor, America, remains to be one of the most openly patriarchal countries in the world, with citizens from a variety of cultural and economic backgrounds passionately declaring that they are proud to be American.
Surely this in itself proves that some element of the American Dream is indeed alive and well, albeit it in a more fluid form.
The pursuit of a better life or a more meaningful existence has got to be the epitome of human behaviours. How that dream manifests itself can be vastly different from person to person and so I am not sure that something such as the ‘American dream’ can ever truly be defined, only interpreted in terms of the freedoms it allows us.