David Van Ark
American Literature, 5th hour
19 October 2018
There are many values shared by most Americans, however, the core values that define Americans as a whole are freedom, equality, and the strive to always be better. These are considered the core American values due to the fact they helped shape the United States and guide our way of life.
One of the basic and most fundamental American values is freedom. The United States of America was built around the idea of freedom, and that very idea is what spurred the American Revolution. The first amendment to the constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (U.S. Constitution, Amendment I). This is arguably one of the more important amendments to the constitution, giving people the right to free speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has complete freedom of speech and press, which is a unique characteristic created from the American idea of freedom.
Another one of the core American values is equality, something that has been debated and expanded since the founding of the United States. This truly became an American value in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was written, stating “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence). This is saying that all men (meaning man as a species) are created equal and have basic human rights that shall not be infringed upon, and the American government was created in order to protect these rights and ensure equality. Although, at the time of writing, equality wasn’t extended to all citizens, and though much progress has been made some people may still not have completely equal opportunities.
The American strive for greatness is another core value that has shaped the growth and development of America, and even affected the world. In the book, The Martian by Andy Weir, American astronaut Mark Watney is left behind, completely alone, on Mars and forced to find a way back home (Weir, The Martian). This ties to Americans strive for greatness because that strive to be better is what spurred the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, which marked the beginning of space exploration, and eventually the inspiration of this book. If Americans had not strived to be the best back in the space race, the space program may have not gotten off the ground and there would be no inspiration for this book.
United States Constitution, Amendment I
United States Declaration of Independence
Weir, Andy. The Martian. Crown Publishing, 2011.