James Truslow Adams coined this phrase in 1931 in his book, The Epic of America. Here’s how he defined it:
The American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.
It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it.
It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
The optimal divider
Marketers divide people into niches. Politicians divide people into voting blocks. Society divides people into classes.
Adams says the American Dream is “a difficult dream for the European upper class to interpret adequately.” We would add that the ruling class in the U.S. increasingly seems to have the same difficulty.
The American Dream is the optimal divider:
- It gives no credence the family we were born into
- It couldn’t care less where we went to school
- It pays no attention to our current title or position
- It doesn’t really care what you’ve done in the past
- Its only concern is your potential and the actions you take to live up to it
The American Dream is about the future – your future.
You can realize the American Dream by “doing your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming,” as John Wooden said.
Nothing can stop you from living the American Dream except you!
The American Dream is and isn’t American
So now we come to the question posed in the title: Is the American Dream Un-American?
Absolutely not! Although, sadly, there seems to be an increasing tide of sentiment against:
- climbing your way up
- working hard to reach BIGG success
- making the American Dream come true for you
No, the American Dream is not Un-American. It is uniquely American – for a simple reason.
America was founded on ideals. One of those principles was that government should serve the people and not the other way around.
The Founders designed a government to stay out of the way of its citizens. If you were one of them, they wanted to insure that you could live your life on your own terms.
The promise of the American Dream has brought people to the United States for centuries. It’s the diversity of those people – the melting pot – which has given America its edge. So we see that…
The American Dream isn’t the American Dream at all.
It’s the People’s Dream.
It’s the dream of every human being – no matter where they happen to call home. We all want:
- to be judged on our own merit
- the opportunity to create a better life for ourselves and our loved ones
- to see if we can capitalize on that opportunity
Historically, America has been the place where BIGG goal-getters could realize those dreams. But the People’s Dream has no borders.
So the Dream is not just American. It spans the entire globe.
It’s open to any citizenry of any country that creates an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive. When that happens:
- Entrepreneurship begets entrepreneurship
- Wealth creates more wealth
- More dreams are realized for more people
Now that’s BIGG success!
Image in this post from stock.xchng