The American Dream was defined by James Truslow Adams who stated that the “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” (Callahan 250). Furthermore, the American Dream can be described as the socio-political condition where all citizens can achieve the quality of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Kamp 2009). Therefore, it can be stated that the achievement of the American Dream is only justified when it is pivoted around the social norms, values, and ethics rather than financial stability, personal satisfaction and individual gain/happiness only.
The definition and description of the American Dream can be elaborated further by observing the life history of Benjamin Franklin. Rather than that, it will be more accurate to say that Franklin was the personification of the true spirit of the American Dream. He not only made himself self-sufficient to achieve monetary, financial, and Psychological satisfaction, but he also achieved the spiritual success and satisfaction by performing his utmost duty toward the state of his origin i.e. America. One of his fellows, James Madison describes that “he never passed half an hour in his company without hearing some observation or anecdote worth remembering” (Callahan 250), showing that Franklin was well aware of his duties towards the state and the rightful demands of the state. And he never intended to waste his time on something other than useful for his society and country.
Even though this entire concept of the American dream and the satisfaction seems to originate from the lands and the times of America; the true origination of the concept can be traced as back as in the era of De Tocqueville when the world was ruled over by the kings and royal systems of governing. It was at such times that he presented the idea of justified and ethical liberty that not only grants the permission to attain self-satisfaction but also binds the individual to perform obligations towards the society and play a constructive part of the region he is living in. He further states that “I have a passionate love for liberty, law, and respect for rights, I am neither of the revolutionary party nor of the conservative. . . . Liberty is my foremost passion” (Powell 520). Stating this he shows that the entire concept behind the formulation of the American Dream is pivoted around the concept of liberty, law, rights and social bonds.
The very first thing that I think of changing is the interpretation of the ‘American Dream.’ The American Dream has often been interpreted as the phenomenon where the achievement of financial, personal and sociological success is the ultimate goal. Even though these are the ends, the means to meet these ends are nowhere to be discussed in the interpretation of the American Dream. This is the reason that the use of fraudulent activities for the financial gain and the illicit activities for personal bliss are being observed widely in the America. If it had to be redefined, then I would have defined it as the adoption of the justified, ethical and moral means, no matter what the ends are.
The second change that I want to bring within the American society is the integration of the patience. The recent incidents of racial segregation, Muslim stereotyping, domestic violence, violence against women, etc. are all the results of impatience and inability to tolerate. Therefore, I would like to bring the psychological change within the American nationals for the extensiveness of the tolerance and patience.
The majority of the American nation is also suffering from the intense addiction for the technology based leisure, gadgets and cellphones. Such an addiction is not only having a negative impact on the health and psychological state of the users but is also widening the gap between the social classes, hence creating more discrimination by financial status. Therefore, I would recommend marking a limit for the use of the technology and gadgets on the ages and other social factors.
Another issue that has engulfed the American society at large is the media impression of the ‘Perfection.’ This includes being perfect in the body shapes, facial features, color tones, etc. Having deteriorated and plastered figures of the models as the ideals in the Hollywood movies has indulged the teenagers and the young adults into the inferiority complex that is leading them towards the health issues such as being anorexic and drug addicts. Therefore, there is a need to put constraints in what the media is showcasing.
The fifth change that I want to see the America is in the political stances. In the recent decades, American Government has bombed several countries including Afghanistan and Iraq. Recently the Pakistan is under the drone attacks by the American basis, while the Iran and the North Korea are already on the hit list. This shows the American high headedness on their stock of the weapons of mass destruction. Even though the reasons might be logical, yet the so-called ‘collateral damage’ was too much to be categorized as the ‘Collateral Damage.’ America needs to bring intense changes in their military and political, strategic policies and stances.
Furthermore, the American Government is also observed to have the economic system that has already been proven as unsatisfactory and rejected by the American Nationals. The recent turmoil and unrest observed under the label of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ has shown that the civilians do not want the current economic system. Therefore, the change must be brought within the economic distribution or else, the gap between the “99%” and the others will continue to widen (Callahan 255).
Conclusively, it can be stated that the American Dream is not only a fantasized idea of leading an ideal life in America; instead, it is an entire philosophical concept of leading a life in a rightful way within the general society. As proposed by Adams and explained by B. F. Skinner, the true spirit of the American dream is to “associate a culture with a group of people” (Skinner, n.d.). The very same idea was practically implemented and practiced by Franklin who became one of the America’s best individuals of all times with the development of the sense of responsibility, ethics, logic and morality.
Callahan, William A. “Dreaming as a critical discourse of national belonging: China Dream, American Dream, and world dream.” Nations and Nationalism 23.2 (2017): 248-270.
Kamp, David. “Rethinking the American Dream.” Vanity Fair. 2009.
Skinner, B. F. The Evolution of a Culture. N.d.
Powell, Jim. “Alexis de Tocqueville: How People Gain Liberty and Lose it.” The Freeman. July 1996, p. 520-526.
Rueda, Valeria, Guillaume Laval, and Etienne Patin. Achieving the American Dream: Cultural Distance, Cultural Diversity and Economic Performance. No. 140. 2016.