Origin and Definition of the American Dream The American Dream is an attitude of hope and faith that looks forward to the fulfillment of human wishes and desires. It was expressed in Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence of 1776, which defined it as highly individual. Everyone interprets it differently, for some, it's the dream of equality and liberty, while for others, it's the dream of glory and wealth. Generally, everyone is free to strive after their aims and dreams and can fulfill them if they work hard enough. The term "American Dream" was introduced by James Truslow Adams in the 1930s. The founding fathers were "dreamers" who had the idea of leading a country based on personal liberty, self-governance, and individual rights. The Declaration of Independence stated that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America could correct the mistakes of the "old world" (Europe), where religious persecution, political oppression, and poverty were the main reasons for leaving. The American Dream envisioned an equality, classless society, dignity, and happiness. Individuals of all nations were melted into a new race (melting pot) with a minimum of state control and democracy. Negative Aspects of the American Dream The concept of a classless society never really worked out, and education has become a "luxury-priced necessity." Without good education, one has no chance of getting a well-paid job, no matter how hard they try. The American Dream is about success and money, but capitalism is a source of unhappiness. There is a lot of unemployment, and people are too optimistic. Many people do not have the chance to fulfill their dream because they are immigrants, and some are often exploited as cheap workers. Racism is still prevalent, and there is a big gap between black and white people in education and income. True equality has not been achieved yet. There is no standard school system, but a system of expensive private schools, which means that the children of the poorer start out their career with lower chances for a good future. Police officers shooting unarmed black people is also a major issue. A lot of people cannot get access to healthcare or good education, and unemployment is high because of outsourcing (jobs are moved to China or India). The vision of America as a "melting pot of nations" has never become a reality. Important Aspects of the American Dream Freedom is an essential aspect of the American Dream. Americans regard their society as the freest and best in the world, superior to every other nation. Americans' understanding of freedom is shaped by the founding fathers' belief that all men are created equal, including freedom of speech, press, and religion. Setting the West ("going west") meant making a fresh start in a land of spaciousness. Today, Americans still have the same sense of optimism about their chances to succeed, and they are still prepared to move great distances to improve their lives through a better job. The Puritan work ethic is also an important aspect of the American Dream. It is an individual's duty to work hard and to show self-discipline. Material success through hard work is a sign of "God's favor." The belief in progress is also very important to Americans. The nation's progress is reflected in its growing prosperity, economic strength, and political power. Americans have always regarded themselves as a nation with a mission. Patriotism is intensified by symbols and icons such as the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, and national holidays such as Thanksgiving or Independence Day. Hollywood is also a symbol of material success. The American Dream Today Critics argue that the American Dream is a clever political and economic marketing strategy. Many aspects, such as a classless society, equality, and the pursuit of happiness, have never become a reality due to racism, social discrimination, and unemployment. Today, becoming famous like a film star, model, etc., is a dream of glory, wealth, and fame instead of liberty, equality, and self-government. The government seems to inconsistently encourage and discourage the values central to the American Dream, regulating business to the point of detriment, yet upholding the public perception of Americans' potential to achieve massive material success.
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