The livelihood of the American dream depends on what benefits you think the “dream” is supposed to provide.
Take a trip through a college town and you’re likely to hear someone say “The American Dream is Dead”. Scroll through Facebook or Twitter for a few moments and you’ll probably see an even stronger claim; “The American Dream is a Nightmare!”. The fate of the American Dream often becomes a topic of debate, especially when elections roll around. People never seem to settle on a final verdict on the livelihood of it, and that’s largely because people have different ideas about the way of life that it’s supposed to deliver.
I’ve realized that many people think the American Dream implies that life in the United States is supposed to be easy. There aren’t supposed to be any hardships. Citizens should get to do whatever they want without consequence. People are supposed to be able to reap benefits without sowing any effort or sacrifice. Well if this is your definition of the American Dream, then yes, it is dead and gone. In fact, it was never alive. There has never been a time in the United States (or any other civilization throughout history) where there were’t struggles and hard times that people faced.
“The American Dream” was a term first made popular by historian John T. Adams in his 1931 book “The Epic of America“. In it, he pointed out that the American Dream “is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream … in which each man and each woman shall be capable to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable“. People often take the American Dream as a promise of materialistic surplus, but I think the dream should be considered to be a promise not of affluence, but more so a guarantee of the liberty to freely pursue one’s goals and aspirations to improve their quality of life. The ability to invest in your future is a privilege within itself, even if there is no guarantee that there’ll be a return on those investments.
By no means am I downplaying or ignoring any of the socio-economic problems that America is dealing with right now. Corruption and oppression exist in too many facets everyday life. The future of our economy is discouraging. People in power, from politicians to police officers, care more about their wallets and egos than the lives of the citizens they are supposed to protect. Despite all of that, we need to recognize and appreciate the opportunities we have to make our voices heard and to encourage change for the better. I find it annoying and a bit oxymoronic that many of those who claim the American dream is dead are college students who have their own cars (probably at the expense of mommy and daddy), jobs, homes/apartments, and are registered to vote. We need to remember to not take these things for granted. After all, transportation, employment opportunities, and a political voice are privileges that many people around the world can only dream of.