America is a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom.
According to Kohls, the author of “The Values Americans Live by”, Americans value time, their environment, and competition more than many other nations in the World. By not using time to be productive, Americans see that as a “waste”. This can be good and bad, we have made many advancements rapidly due to the tireless effort of dedicated workers, but it can also have a negative effect. Citizens can become compelled to perform their work outside of their office hours, even becoming obsessed with it, which can lead to them not having much of a life outside of their career. As Americans, we have a tendency to take control over our environment. We rapidly develop land, seeking economic opportunities through natural resources and development. We take charge over what we want to do with our lives by forming or joining communities with others that have similar interests as us. Competition is valued by Americans very strongly, we show this through sports, dedication to work, and our strong sense of patriotism. We always cheer on our favorite team, work as hard as we can at work, and have an overwhelming desire to be the best nation in the World.
As Hidden Figures by Shetterly has shown, when people are discontent about injustices, they will do something about it. Up until the 1970’s America was racially segregated, making African Americans second class citizens and not giving them the same opportunities or freedoms as white citizens. African Americans didn’t just roll over and accept that injustice, they fought for the rights they were guaranteed as American citizens. They worked hard to show incompetent people that regardless of the color of your skin, you can be just as intelligent or more so than the man standing next to you. That mentality, the way of thinking that you’re not going to sell yourself short just because someone said you should, shows that Americans value hard work and equality.
Some would argue that the American Dream has changed from a set of valued ideals and principles to a more materialistic point of view. In recent years, many Americans have focused on buying a home, which could be an overall goal for some people. Shiller, author of “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream’”, says that we no longer realize the importance of our values of freedom, mutual respect, and equality of opportunity. Instead, we have shifted towards owning a house as our “ideal” American Dream (Shiller). He later states that the American Dream is a trajectory, a point that everyone in the World wants to model after. I believe that the so called American Dream isn’t one idea, but whatever any given person wants to achieve. The American Dream and way of life shouldn’t be a set plan that everyone has to follow, but a loose idea which everyone interprets differently and is able to make different decisions based on their desired outcomes.
Kohls, Robert. “The Values That Americans Live By.” Values Americans Live By, The Washington International Center, Apr. 1984, www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/alee/extra/American_values.html.
Shetterly, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.
Shiller, Robert J. “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream.’” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/upshot/the-transformation-of-the-american-dream.html?mcubz=0.
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