The American Dream is a concept that can be traced to the founding fathers of America, which entails ideals such as democracy, equality, freedom, liberty, human rights and opportunity for all to live a better and prosperous life. These ideals are achieved through hard work in an environment that has no barriers and offers equal opportunities for all. The advent of the American Dream came with the declaration of independence from England. People were filled with hope as they believed in the right to freedom, life and pursuing happiness. The idea was the creation of a nation in which people would be free from restrictions to pursue a life of their choosing. This definition of the American Dream has changed over the course of time as people started deviating from the ideals of liberty, rights, and hard work. Instead, there have been instances such as segregation that negates equality. Hard work has been replaced by the pursuit of wealth through financing lifestyles by credit and opportunities are not equal to all (Clark, 3).
The basis of the American dream was that people would not be treated differently regardless of their color or social class. Equality was a central theme in the American dream and people were to be one, segregation deviated from this ideal. Everyone was to have freedom and liberty. Martin Luther King Jr in his famous speech, I Have A Dream reminded Americans of their deviation from the ideals of the American Dream. He challenged the nation by reminding them of their failure to honor the promise of freedom and equality for all American regardless of color. In a part of the speech, King reminds Americans we are simply seeking to bring into full realization the American dream. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed (King). This implied the deviation from the virtues that the American dream was based on.
Over time, the American Dream changed into an ideal that was based on the ability of people to afford modern and luxurious conveniences of life such as cars, exemplary homes, college education among other trappings of life. Clark (7) notes that people became materialistic and their affluences and purchases were fuelled by debts with credit cards. This ensured that Americans accumulated debt to keep up with this definition of the American dream. Soon it became a dream only few people could attain. People are more interested in material things rather than the virtue of hard work and freedom. In recent times, people are more interested in having the most lavish lifestyle. This is something that few can achieve compared to the American dream of years gone by where the ideals were centered on being able to feed ones family, having a good happy life, owning a home and having the freedom of speech, life and religion. When looked at in this manner, it is evident that the American dream has undergone a complete change from its initial meaning and implications. Aspects such as education and healthcare have undergone change. Today, only the wealthy can afford the best education for their children and healthcare for their families. People have changed from the ideals of prosperity through hard work and the concept has changed to a falsified belief that someone could become a millionaire by not working.
Clark, William AV. Immigrants and the American dream: Remaking the middle class. Guilford
King Jr, Martin Luther. "I have a dream." TheHuffingtonPost. com, Inc. http://www.
huffingtonpost. com/2012/01/16/i-have-a-dream-speech-text-martinluther-king-jr_n_1207734. html (accessed April 9 2014) (1968).
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