With hard work and determination, anyone can find happiness and success in the States. At least, that’s what the American dream leads people to believe. In an online forum titled “Ask An American,” one traveler inquired if it still exists. US residents had differing opinions.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
Dream Until It Comes True
“The American Dream is doing whatever the heck makes you happy,” one person said. In that case, it’s alive and well. For some, that means a white picket fence and a family. “For others, it could be satisfaction in your job, moving to the middle of nowhere, and starting a farm,” they explained.
Pursuit of Happiness
One US citizen thinks the American dream isn’t about the white picket fences; It’s about people’s freedom to pursue a dream that may not be possible elsewhere. “People’s individual ambitions isn’t the key thing, but the fact that there are no (or much less) arbitrary barriers of class or ethnic discrimination in the way.”
A Californian says the American dream has passed unless one comes from a developing country. “The middle class has been all but gutted, and for the first time in our history, the current generation is worse off than previous generations.”
Grass Is Greener
It’s hard for some people to believe the American dream exists because it’s shrouded in delayed gratification, sacrifice, and a little luck, one person says. Previous generations didn’t have it easier either. They said, “The past always seems happier than the present.”
Apple Doesn’t Fall Far
One second-generation American says their immigrant parents worked hard from nothing and built a good life for their family in the States. Now, they said the dream exists for them, too. “I worked long hours, made personal sacrifices, took financial risks, and it paid off for me.”
One person wanted to point out that you can do everything right on paper and still never come close to the traditional American dream. “There’s a large part of this generation that’ll perpetually be under the thumb of increasing cost of living, which leaves them in a constant state of near financial collapse.”
Alive and Well
For immigrants who start a business or pursue education and put their all into it, the American dream is thriving. “As far as I understand it, the American dream was never about people who have been here for generations being able to move up the ladder to higher and higher incomes consistently,” one person said.
“People have this idea that the American Dream is that you will become rich by just existing,” one American observed. “That was never it.”
Look at the Data
A philosophical commenter believes that, to some extent, the American dream has to exist today. Just look at the immigration numbers. “If people didn’t think there was economic prosperity and a future for their families here, these numbers would be much lower,” they said.
Didn’t Go Anywhere
Of course, the American dream still exists, one person said. “Does it look like the nuclear family in the suburbs straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting? Probably not, but people still come to our wonderful country hoping to find job opportunities and economic prosperity.”
“People have been misled into assuming the American dream has to do with becoming super rich,” an American said. “They lack the historical context of it being a dream for those coming from repressed countries where they had no hope of rising above their class of peasantry.”
The American dream is “still alive in my household,” said one American who worked up to become a Vice President of a Fortune 5 corporation. He said he put himself through school after being disowned by his father for being gay. His husband grew up similarly in Brazil and came to the US. “We now have a beautiful home, two vacation homes, and a daughter who is a doctor.”
One person says the American dream still exists, but it’s not automatic. “People also complain about never being able to afford a house while not being willing to move out of big cities which haven’t been affordable in a century,” they added.
Hard Work Pays Off
“I work with small businesses, and it is still alive for those with something of value to offer their customers,” an entrepreneur said. As long as you’re willing to work long hours and develop a keen business sense, you’re halfway there. “I see that more in immigrants than native-born Americans.”
Smoke and Mirrors
The American dream is alive in all of us, observed a commenter. “It has nothing to do with some universal goal. It is to be what you want it to be. Many people live successful, unfulfilled lives because they are NOT living their dream, but the illusion of an American success.”
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