America is and forever will be the land of opportunities. The American Dream is different for everyone, and as Robert J. Shiller said in his article The Transformation of the American Dream, this world-renowned dream has changed over the years and doesn’t mean the same thing as it did a century ago (Shiller). Since 1917, we have gone through 18 Presidents, 2 World Wars, a Great Depression, a “Cold War” in which not a single soul was harmed, and terrorist attacks on our country that will never be forgotten. Yet we still stand here today as a nation, stronger than ever, waiting for whatever challenge we may have to face next, waiting to take whatever is thrown at us and not only persevere through it, but continue to strive as a nation. No matter what our government has to deal with, no matter how our individual opinions differ, no matter if we’re white, black, yellow, orange, tall, or short, we will always be given a chance to make the most out of our lives, we will always have opportunities – from pursuing any career you want to fulfilling your American Dream to living the way that you choose to live – that make us who we are, and who we all are is defined by one word: American.
From the principle foundation of America, the rights of all people were described in solid writing in our Declaration and our Constitution. These rights were not only defined, but they were named as “inalienable” so that the government could never take away any person’s freedom. Furthermore, it was established that if a body of government became too powerful, it was the responsibility of the people to alter or abolish it. By the government granting us our freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in our Declaration of Independence (US 1776), it set the precedent of an economic, social, and political freedom of all people that has forever stood and forever will continue to stand. Our Constitution gives every single citizen the ability to live a life without restrictions, regulations, or intervention by the federal government, which ties into our American Dream by laying down the opportunity for any citizen to pursue any career that they might choose. With no large government to force people to be a farmer or a doctor or a part of the nobility, citizens of America have always been and will always be free to outline their own life, no matter who is in office. Although there has been some controversy lately over our president, America is still a constitutional republic, and we will always have the right to express our voice as citizens. As Michelle Kumar – author for The Daily Iowan – proclaimed in her recent article discussing the current state of the American Dream, “After all, we are a democracy, and that means the people make a country, not the president” (Kumar). Even though over half the people in this country did not vote for Donald Trump, we can not lay blame on one man if we are upset with the way this country is headed because we still have a claim to those inalienable rights so prominently mentioned in our Declaration and so thoroughly described in our Bill of Rights. After all, we are free Americans, and if we do not like the direction of our nation, we will always have the opportunity to alter or abolish our system of government.
One intrical part to the social structure of America is the equality of all people, no matter what their race or religion. Although during the founding of our nation it was very common for people to own slaves, our doctrine of beliefs was still centered around the principle that all people are created equally, as written in the Declaration of Independence (US 1776), it just took some time for our government to grant all people equal rights. However, we still have not gained full equality, as we still see examples today of women earning less than men in the workplace or African Americans facing discrimination in their lives. Despite these hardships that are often prominent in our society, any person in this country will still have opportunities as promised in the defining documents of our country. One specific example is demonstrated in the life of Malcolm Little, a young African American boy living in the Lansing area during the Great Depression. His life story is told in the book X: A Novel, written by Malcolm Little’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz, and his hard fought life is very thoroughly described in various scenarios throughout this book, yet through hunger, relocation, the loss of his parents, and discrimination, Malcolm found the opportunity to relocate to Boston and live with his sister where he began to be exposed to politics and develop his own beliefs, which in turn developed the world-renowned civil rights activist Malcolm X. Even though Malcolm faced about the hardest conditions that a person could face, he had an opportunity to express his disgust with the way he had to live and the way that others of his race had to live, and by taking this opportunity and pursuing his American Dream of spreading equality, Malcolm X succeeded in defying poverty and proving that no matter who you are or where you live, the American Dream is out there, you just have to go find it.
Perhaps the most important opportunity that we enjoy as Americans is the opportunity to live, which doesn’t mean that we’re allowed to be born, but signifies that we have the opportunity to pursue any form of life that we desire. Americans are indeed free, and freedom can be defined by the choices that we are allowed to make on any given day that might impact our lives. If we choose to make dinner one night, we can make dinner. If we choose to have a family reunion, we can have a family reunion. If we choose to be Christian on Monday-Friday and Muslim on Saturday and Sunday, we can very well do that as well. It may sound silly to be praising all of these rights, but many foreign countries tell their citizens what to think, where to live, who to acquaint yourself with, where to work, and what religion to worship. One common example that comes to everyone’s mind right away is North Korea, where their Communist government restricts their citizens to a point where there are no citizens, only government. Our claims to our rights in the Constitution go deeper than someone being allowed to plead the 5th to a police officer or another person keeping a gun in their household, our rights as citizens of the United States permit us to live the lives that we always dreamed of, to picture our American Dream and to see it achieved 20 years down the road, to look at some stars and stripes and feel like we’re home. All of these actions demonstrate the opportunities that will always be available to us, the people of America, living in one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all (Pledge), because all of us are Americans, and Americans will always have the opportunity to live the absolute best life they can live, and this right is and forever will be protected in the Constitution of the United States of America.
Lam, Katherine. “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Aug. 2017.
Kumar, Michelle. “Kumar: The American Dream Is Not Dead Yet.” The Daily Iowan, The Daily Iowan, 15 Sept. 2017.