The American dream has been the point of discussion for a long time now. It is quite fascinating how people leaving in the same country could have divided opinions about such an issue. It is apparent that regardless of the many debates that have been held about the American dream, there are people who do not really know what it is all about. The American dream came into existence after the declaration of independence. The United States was now a free state and people had the opportunity of controlling their destiny. Based on the level of oppression that was bestowed on people by the colonialists, a lot of people dreamt of liberty and pursuing happiness (Hanson 11). This level of happiness was supposed to be experienced as a result of the peace of mind that the people had. However, various things have changed since that time. People have forgotten about the American dream in this perspective. Other definitions of the American dream have emerged. Most of the new perspectives are inclined towards creating as much wealth as possible. There is no concern on whether this brings happiness or not.
The current definitions of the American dream are the reason most people think that the American dream is dying. Keli Goff thinks that the benchmarks set for people to realize the American Dream are quite expensive for most people. They all involve a substantial amount of money to maintain; something that can only be achieved by a few individuals. He postulates that only 1 in 8 American families have the ability of achieving the American dream. This has led to people trying to fulfill their dreams in other different ways. People are searching for alternatives that are quite achievable. Based on this, I agree with Goff that the white picket fence dream is dying because people are adopting the notions of the New American Dream since the dream is expensive for most people to afford.
Body Part 1
The founding fathers’ dream
The dream is all about happiness. It talks about people working towards a life that makes them feel contented. It has more concern for the welfare of the people. The notions associated with this dream might be as a result of the period it was conceived. America had just gained independence and people were more focused on attaining various liberty privileges. Being happy was among the things that people desired most. It is something they had not experienced due to the oppression they were receiving from the colonialists. Being happy was thought as an appropriate avenue to bring contentment.
White picket fence dream
This dream supports the idea of making as much money as possible. People can buy houses, expensive electronics, cars and other things that money can afford with the money created. The dream tends to uphold the prospect of making a good life for the family. There is a belief that this life can only be attained on the availability of monetary resources. This is because most of the things required for the attainment of this dream are quite expensive. It is something that most people would have to work extremely hard in order to achieve.
The New American Dream
The New American Dream gives people the opportunity to seek fulfillment of basic needs such as education and healthcare. People also desire to spend more time with their families and friends (Amadeo). The essence of more freedom is also attractive to most people that desire to attain this dream. Content is attained by people having sufficient for a given time. Surplus is not necessarily desired with this dream. Governmental institutions also play a significant role in ensuring that as many people as possible attain the New American Dream. This is because some basic needs like healthcare, education and others can be optimally attained if these institutions play their roles sufficiently.
Body Part 2
The white picket fence dream is dying because people are adopting the notions of the New American Dream since the dream is expensive for most people to afford. Keli Goff postulates that it could cost an American family over $130,000 annually in order to actualize the American dream. This is based on the benchmarks that need to be attained with this dream. This amount of money is only affordable to very few Americans. As a result, people as searching for new ways of defining the American dream; this is a definition that they will be able to actualize given their current status. Among the alternatives that people are now focusing on is the New American Dream. Achieving this dream is quite realistic for most people compared to the white picket fence dream. The dream involves fulfillment of the basic needs and have some increased level of freedom. It does not focus on having surplus resources in order to bring contentment. Based on its ideology, the New American dream seems quite easy to attain compared to the white picket fence dream. This is why most people are shifting towards achieving this dream at the expense of the white picket fence dream. This aspect is an indication that the white picket fence dream is dying.
Currently, the cost of living is also so high. This has made people less focused on achieving their dreams. They are more concerned with trying to get by. There is no way an individual will think of fulfilling his/her American dream with tons of bills to pay or even accruing debt. More focus is placed on meeting the immediate needs. Most of the strategies devised are meant for short-term survival (Hanson 7). Long-term dreams are kept at hold. This in itself is an indication that the American dream is dying.
Some people, who still think the American dream lives on, tend to underestimate the responsibility that is needed to achieve their childhood dreams. It is different to have dreams as a child, and taking the initiative to achieve them as an adult. This is when the reality hits. People tend to understand that it is too expensive, too ambitious and very unrealistic. The notion that most people still believing in the American dream are people in their childhood eras is an indication that the dream is dying. As they grow up, they will see the reality and forfeit the dream.
Body Part 3
Sofia was born in March 1980 in Meridian, Mississippi. She was brought up by a single mother; who was a Mexican immigrant. During the decades when she was growing up, a lot was happening. Various events like the end of cold war, passing of the No Child Left Behind Act, flooding of the Mississippi River that resulted in deaths and election of the first Black president in America just to mention a few. Her mother had migrated from Mexico long before she was born in pursuit of the “American dream”. However, things did not turn out as she expected. Life was hard on her and raising Sofia was a huge task.
Regardless of the situation, the American dream still lived in Sofia as she grew up. Her life was tough since she was being raised by a single mother who survived by means of uncertain casual labor. Sofia cannot even tell exactly the point at which she became an adult since she started working at an early age. This was meant to help her mother make ends meet. To Sofia, the American dream meant having the ability to live a life that did not have worries of what tomorrow had for her and her mother. She dreamt of living a comfortable life, with the ability to afford various things that she desired. She could not wait for the day when she would have the ability to help her move from the life struggles. Her mother had played an important role in her life; putting her through school regardless of the obstacles.
It was not clear to Sofia whether she had similar sentiments with her peers regarding the American dream. She did not have time for close socialization since she had to juggle work and school. Though, she had this close friend whose life seemed exactly like hers. They had a similar dream of making life better for their mothers. They were also driven by the desire of not to letting their children undergo the same life that they had.
Until this moment, her definition of the American dream has not changed. Evading poverty and living a happy life remains to be her American dream. She thinks that she has achieved the American dream. She has a family, a good job and has been able to build her mother a house. Her son also attends a great school. She thinks that if he works hard enough, he will be able to get the job that he desires. This is because he has more privileges than she had.
Sofia is of the belief that people should strive to achieve the American dream. She postulates that if it was not for the desire to attain the American dream, she might not be where she is at the moment. She would have given up, and her children would have followed the same life that she had as a child. However, she is quick to note that people have a different understanding of the America dream. She talked about how many people think that the American dream is all about getting rich regardless of the means used. She believes that such a mentality only breeds an immoral society filled with people carrying unfulfilled dreams.
The interview refutes my thesis. Sofia believes that the white picket fence dream is still alive, and people should strive to attain it. It is the desire to attain the dream that made her life the way it is right now.
The white picket fence dream is dying since people are adopting the notions of the New American dream since the dream is expensive for most people to afford. The New American dream provides a favorable alternative since it focuses on people fulfilling the things that matter in their life. This includes the ability to acquire education and favorable healthcare. Having a good rapport with the family is also highly regarded in this dream. It is not only a matter of providing them with material things. The dream is also dying since people have put their focus in other areas. There are a lot of commitments that they are required to fulfill. People end up pursuing these commitments at the expense of their long-term dreams. At some point, people are also realizing that they underestimated the responsibility that comes with achieving their childhood dreams.
Amadeo, Kimberly. “What Is the American Dream Today?” About.com News & Issues. 26 Nov. 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
Goff, Keli. “The American Dream Is Dead, and Good Riddance.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 7 July 2014. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
Hanson, Sandra. “Is the American Dream Alive and Well?” Economic Mobility (2014). Web.
Luhby, Tami, and They Are Less Likely to Own a Home. “Why Blacks Believe in the American Dream More than Whites.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
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