What is the American Dream, Anyway?

Just to clear a few things up — my goal with the title of this blog is not to be anti-American or discourage patriotism.

It is simply to point out the changes all around us. Many of us are still striving for the American Dream of owning a piece of land, working in an industry we sought after and providing more for our children more than our parents provided for us. But what that means to our father’s father’s father is far different than what it means today. After a few hundred years, that concept has evolved with our nation, and no longer means going west and building a farm. We live in a world where it can mean anything to you. The reason I have quote marks around the “American Dream” in the title is because I am referring to the materialistic, untrue version of the American Dream. Some of our thought processes have failed to evolve with the dream itself. We do not have to fall in line with what our ancestors did to fulfill their American Dream or maybe what they dreamt for us. The beauty of America is the freedom to seek and find your own dream – or even create it. Either way, respect for those individuals who seek their own dream is evident. People who follow their passion and achieve their goals despite what others say and do are respected, just as those who blazed the Oregon Trail or the founders of our country who revolted against those who told them to pay their taxes. That is the American Dream – following your passion and heart.

The man who coined the phase, James Truslow Adams said ,”The American Dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as a man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.”

He understood it would change with time, and it would not always mean what it meant in that moment. Material plenty can be fulfilling, but that is not the goal of the dream. It is, rather, being free of social expectations and following your heart. The “American Dream” we are plotting to escape is the false version – the one that tells us the order in which to live out our lives and that materialism is expected.