American culture, belief, values, and creed can mean different things to all Americans. After all, they are what you base your individual life off of. However, some of the values that are the most important and the most present in everyone’s lives are equality and opportunity.
Equality has been around as long as America itself. We are constantly striving for it by attempting to make everyone’s lives fair and just. The Declaration of Independence states that “…all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”(US 1776). The very document that founded our nation has equality as one of its most core values. Even though it has been called into question, this value has never wavered in its significance to our nation. In “What Does it Mean to be American”, Jose Vargas addresses equality in a different perspective of being an undocumented immigrant. He describes his struggles to gain equality in society and equality in the way he is viewed. This shows that equality is present in the lives of people who aren’t documented Americans, but share our beliefs. He explains that even though his papers don’t say he is American, his belief in the value of equality does.
Opportunity has also been a pillar of what defines America. The people who brought up this country came here in search of opportunity in the form of new beliefs, new freedoms, and a new life. In American economist, Robert Shiller’s “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream’” , opportunity is shown to be what the American people believe in time and time again. The American dream is based on opportunity and even though it has changed, the prevalence of opportunity hasn’t. Schiller argues that the American Dream used to be more about “a dream of land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement”(Shiller para 9), but it has changed to “homeownership and wealth”(Shiller para 19). The earlier dream is based on the opportunity of success and the later dream is based on the opportunity to translate success into material goods.
You can’t define what Americans stand for without mentioning equality and opportunity. They have both been here in America’s defining documents as well as current news articles. These values are the foundation that supports the American people.
- Vargas, Jose Antonio. “What Does It Mean To Be An American?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 4 July 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-antonio-vargas/jose-antonio-vargas-meaning-of-american_b_1647894.html.
- 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.