Reflections! The American Dream

The American Dream
By William L. Bulla

I recently I wrote about the American Way of life. It is closely related to the American Dream. It is impossible to live in the United States and not hear references to the "American Dream". It is as much a part of our culture as baseball or apple pie. But is it a dream, or a vision?
What is this American Dream? Is it the idealistic vision of a married couple with children, a home, cars, and everyone well fed, God in His heaven and all right with the world? Is it a reflection of the sitcoms of the fifties like the Brady Bunch? The fifties era family of wage-earner Dad, stay-at-home Mom, and children is rare, in today's world.
But if you are not living in this style, are you a loser? Have you failed to reach the American Dream? Are you a victim of the media-deluded dream? Or are you open-eyed and recognize the reality of what can be accomplished in America today?
The reality of America today, in contrast with the media deluded dream, is astonishing. There is a vast difference between the TV world and the real world.
James Truslow Adams first used the term "American Dream" in his book, The Epic of America that was written in 1931. He states: "The American Dream is 'that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and woman shall be able to attain the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
The American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, which states "...that all Men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Some people say the American Dream is a pursuit of material property. Others say the dream is beyond their grasp, as they must work two jobs just to exist. Yet, others put less focus on financial gain and consider the American Dream the ability to live a simple, fulfilling life style.
From the beginning of our country, Americans have sought to accomplish the American Dream through thrift and hard work. The traditional American Dream is based on the belief that hardworking citizens can lead better lives, pay their monthly bills, give their children a start in life, and save enough that they can live comfortably after they retire.
It may not be the world portrayed in those old television shows, but it is a way to accomplish our dreams, our desires. It's an American ideal of a happy and successful life.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.