Before I start, I’d just like to put it out there that I’ve just begun high school, less than a month ago, and so far it’s been great. I unfortunately have not been able to get around to writing a blog post I originally planned to write about my first impressions of this new stage in my life, but I’ll get to it one of these days. For now however, I have a thing or two to say about one of the most famous phrases, piece of terminology, expression, whatever you wish to call it – “The American Dream”.
The American continent was populated in about 20,000 to 13,000 BCE, when peoples from the opposite side of the world crossed the great land bridge of Beringia; which unfo
rtunately is now no longer existent. The earliest civilizations developed in Mesoamerica and South America, particularly in the mountainous, Andean regions of the continent. These left their marks and extended their influence not only in geographic terms, but also in terms of time – the present-day states that control these regions, such as Mexico and Peru, still exhibit the characteristics they’ve inherited from these ancient civilizations alongside other ones that they’ve acquired from other places in the world.
The story of the American nation is not one of extreme length; when one comes down to it, it reaches an expanse of only about 500 years. When compared to the extremely lengthy histories and heritage of other civilizations, such as those in Asia, the Middle East, the various Chinese dynasties, etc. it actually pales in comparison. At the same time, this new nation has influenced others worldwide greatly. Throughout those 500 years, the nation has become a great economic power that has extended its political and social and cultural influence to many nations of the world. Without a doubt, it has developed at an extremely accelerated rate – in only that time frame, it has gone from a few colonies along the Eastern Coast to a full-fledged urban nation reaching to the other end of the North American continent. Hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecues can be found in Argentina, China, and France as well as the United States, partly, because that’s how far American influence has gotten.
But what perhaps makes the history of the United States ever so interesting is the fact that it is a land of immigrants. While many historians are without a doubt correct in claiming the Native Americans the original populace of the American nation, the US, as it stands today, is a land composed not only of North Americans, but of hundreds upon hundreds of people from just about any country but the homeland – as close as Mexico and Canada, and as far as France, China, Brazil, Japan, etc.
What has allowed this nation to attract so many people? What is so prestigious, what is so great about this nation that has attracted many? The values and morals of the Americans as a united people are not the answer here. It does not involve physiological or philosophical responses – it involves what many today call ” The American Dream”.
Many, if not all people in the world, have heard of this phrase. What it signifies is unanimously agreed upon; while it is an expression open to interpretation, the interpretations of many are rather alike. The American Dream signifies hope; signifies economic stability. It is characterized by Hollywood-esque symbols of a family – the nice house in the suburbs, with the white picket fence, the car, the two children playing in the backyard, the mowing of the lawn, the mother, the father, the family gatherings, the occasional puppy. These are elements that represent the American Dream the same way that an icon represents a piece of computer software. When people see this, they think of the American Dream; they think of hope and of good living.
In essence, the American Dream is a state of welfare, of stability, of a good standard of living, for the one living the dream. But it also means hope, as aforementioned. Many come to the United States, not necessarily to visit the Rockies or take a cool picture of Mount Rushmore, but instead to chase the dream. Many immigrants in the US have come from third-world nations where finding work, maintaining an abode; things that in the US we may take for granted, are hard to do. These people have come to the US to have a better life. And many immigrants who have come here have come with their children.
Children are the only way we have of attempting to fix the errors we’ve made in the past. It was Columbus, not his father, that took on the task, amongst various protests and disapproving remarks, of journeying out into the great unknown waters of the other side of the world to find land that many endured hardships to reach otherwise. And it’ll be the son or daughter of two parents, that will get the chance to take advantage of the educational and working opportunities that the United States, as a world power, provides for its up-and-coming lawyers, doctors, journalists, editors, artists; what have you, and truly excel in the small, but still challenging world of today.
The American Dream, for those who have accomplished it, is truly a dream come true. In the majorly democratic world of today, where we have as a privilege, freedom, but as a duty, independence, accomplishing the American Dream is akin to winning a war. It gives us a sense of pride, a sense of victory; a sense that we’ve really done something for ourselves. The American Dream is one that is in the minds of many who pursue good living not only for themselves, but for their children.
It is three different words for hope of a better life in this vicious, little world of today that we call “The Blue Marble”.