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Many people misunderstand the real concept of the American Dream. Most of them think that this phrase means a great career and money – famous saying ‘from rags to riches’. However, the true meaning of the American Dream is slightly different. The true meaning of American Dream is freedom from any limitations – political system, ideology, religion, etc. It is a freedom of being what people wants, doing what they want, and at the same time not caring about others opinion. It is a freedom in every aspect – freedom of mind and body.
Throughout the centuries, the concept of American Dream has changed. In 20s – it was about being rich; in 30s – financial survival during economic crisis; in 40-50s – happy and safe family life; in 60-70s – equality, peace and freedom; in 80s – once more being rich; in 90s – social status and materialism; in 00s – National Pride, and today it is about personal independence. This proofs that what makes the American Dream depends on the current situation. Let’s analyze some more examples. If someone is born in Europe they have to go to school. They can study at the university. They can pass all the exams and achieve various certificates, they can become a doctor, a violinist, a dance instructor, an architect, or even a philosopher. Regardless of what they choose – the choice is apparent. Ultimately, they end up as a slave of the political and social systems. If someone is born in the Middle East – their role in society and religion is already planned. Allah decides about their lifestyle and beliefs. If someone is born in India – their whole life is also already planned. If they belong from a family of beggars – they can only be a beggar. If they are born in a family of lawyers – they become a lawyer. The caste system and the prevailing religion do not allow them to do anything else. If someone is born in America they can be whoever or whatever they want. They decide their fate. They are responsible for their mistakes. They take every step themselves. This is the real meaning of the American Dream. It’s not about career and money. It’s about possibilities. America is a land of freedom from ideology. People can believe what they want. They can say what they want. They can even found their church or insult the president. It’s not just an economic free market – it’s primarily a free market of ideas for life. A place where good ideas defend themselves. They don’t need a subsidy. They don’t need acceptance. They don’t need any permission.
On the internet, there was a story about a certain Las Vegas taxi driver who dressed up as Elvis and attracted more customers. He was quickly accused of unauthorized use of the artist’s image, but Mr. ‘Elvis’ had an idea to defend himself from prosecution – he founded the Church of the Followers of Elvis and named himself a priest. As a priest, he was ‘required’ to wear a suitable costume. The prosecutors could only watch and do nothing – America has full freedom of religion and no one can prohibit a taxi driver from becoming a priest in the ‘Elvis Church.’ No one knows if this story is true, but if it happened, it could have happened only in the United States. The American Dream means that someone can recognize an architect as the best profession in the world, and someone else can say that a taxi driver is a much better profession. And they don’t have to care about anyone’s opinion. The American Dream means an opportunity to ‘do your thing’ and not pay attention to the opinions of others. It is freedom from oppression and social aggression. It’s freedom from ideology.
Not everyone wants just a career and money. Only naive people think that this is the best way to achieve true happiness in life. It doesn’t matter how rich people are – it’s important how much they need, and what they need – ‘The poor one is not the one who has a little, but the one who needs a lot’.
Another example of achieved American Dream is certain man. In Hurricane (Utah) lives a man named Andrew. He has lived there for almost three decades, and he has been working as a waiter. Can a man in his forties having such kind of job, feel fulfilled? The answer is “yes”. Andrew needs nothing more. He works in a charming café, overlooking the canyons around the famous Zion Park. He has a loose schedule, and after work, he jumps on the bike and rushes to explore new places. On days off he takes his family for kayaking or trips. He is happy that he can live like this. He wouldn’t change it for anything else. Andrew is the best example of the American Dream one can imagine. And the best proof of how limited one’s habits and beliefs are. In the beginning, everyone would feel sorry for him – ‘Such a mature man with such a low-key job. He probably can’t find anything else.’ However, when one learns his story, their compassion will turn into positive and motivating jealousy. Looking at Andrew, one can say that he is the happiest man in the world – because he is free. He does what he wants to do. He doesn’t need a fortune or a big house. All he needs is his family, fresh air, beautiful views and a lot of space. That is enough for him.
What limits people? Ultimately, regardless of the political and social systems, ideology or one’s beliefs and religion – they make every decision in their life by themselves. And they bear the consequences for their mistakes. They are responsible for their actions. The sovereignty and responsibility of society, i.e. the state, is only an illusion. It takes one’s freedom away, and it doesn’t offer anything in return. People are the only ones who allow this situation. Any society that limits individual freedom ultimately collapses. And at the same time, every society that gives this freedom to the individual is growing with strength. Because people have a natural ability to organize in groups and help each other. And it only makes sense if it’s voluntary. What counts is whether and what possibilities one have – and whether they will use them.
To sum up, the American Dream means the freedom that offers endless possibilities, but also requires full responsibility for decisions. It’s simply a life that one decides by themselves – not the society, not the political system nor religion. The only things that prevent people from achieving this American Dream are their fears of not being accepted by society or environment. If people get rid of these fears, their American Dream will simply come true.
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