What are American values? This isn’t a question we think about when we come home from a long day at school or work. We all know what are considered American values yet nobody works to accomplish these goals. If one asks an American citizen what are American values, they are bound to get the same type of responses: freedom, equality, and unity. America is known for being the land of the free and home to many people from around the world yet we don’t always see these values being respected. I believe that these are our country’s most important values which we should respect even if we don’t agree.
Our country’s core value is freedom. Upon hearing that word, many Americans feel a sense of pride as it gives them a feeling of patriotism. A couple hundred years ago, the people of our country fought for our freedom and since then have tried to ensure that it was available to each and every person. That same value is still appreciated by some today. In the poem We Choose Love by Allen Vaysberg, a Russian and English poet, the opening line is “America the great, land of the free”. (Vaysberg 1) America is defined by that single word. Robert J. Shiller, an American Nobel Laureate, refers to the American Dream in his piece The Transformation of the American Dream by saying “Instead, in the 1930’s, it meant freedom…” (Shiller 3) We value freedom because our country has always been open to others while allowing them to express their own feelings and live their life without a forced influence from those around them.
Another major value for Americans is equality. We believe that treating others with respect no matter their race or gender is important and necessary in our country. Vaysberg’s poem says “America’s built on acceptance of others, no matter the color we all are just brothers.” (Vaysberg 25) This line describes what we believe and what equality is in one sentence. We are a country with all kinds of people and it is important for us to treat each and every one of them with the same respect and courtesy.
Along with unity, we believe in diversity. Our country is made up of people from all around the world. They are what make our country America. Without diversity, we are no different from the rest of the countries around the world. Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, filmmaker, and immigration rights activist, writes in his article What it Means to be an American that “America’s view of immigration and the nature of citizenship itself grows increasingly more complex and nuanced.” (Vargas 8) More and more people are immigrating to the United States of America and there is debate with whether we should allow everybody in or close our doors. However, even in a time like this, it is important for us to stand united and not let anybody break down the bond between all of us. Vaysberg writes “I look on TV and see people divided, United We Stand is no longer united, Tensions are rising and punches are thrown, Those actions encouraged not just condoned.” (Vaysberg 3-6) We should stand together even when we don’t agree on certain things because we as a country are supposed to be united.
Everybody might not believe these values to be important but it is important to respect them anyway. Whether one agrees or disagrees with them is up to them but regardless of how one feels about these values, these are the American values and beliefs which define our country and make it what it is today.
Shiller, Robert J. “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream.’” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Aug. 2017.
Vargas, Jose Antonio. “What Does It Mean To Be An American?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 July 2012
Vaysberg, Allen. “We Choose Love!” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 16 Mar. 2016
Picture from Making My American DreamTags: Okemos High School
American Values by Srihita is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.