The American dream has been a national icon of the United States since the 1950s, where, if you worked hard enough, you could climb the business ladder and live a comfortable life no matter your circumstance of birth or social class. However, the American Dream has been around a lot longer, and has meant different things to different people over time.
During the 1950s, there were two groups who had different perspectives of the dream. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Women were the other group fighting for their rights. They wanted to be treated equal to their male counterparts.
This idealist vision found its roots in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims “all men are created equal” with the opportunity to “Life, Liberty and the quest for Happiness.” During the time of slavery, the idea for slaves was freedom and to be reunited with their families, but above all else, their children would be free even if they never made it that far.
The old American Dream was the fantasy of the Puritans, of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard,” of people’s desire to collect their fortunes a little at once, and the new dream was the vision of riches won in a flash by boldness and wealth. Let’s not forget the ‘7os, when the American dream was to sell all your belongings, hop on a bus, and make it big as rock star.
The current American dream is held by many groups, millennials just starting to make their way in life, immigrants fleeing the War on Terror, Muslims trying to not be grouped with ISIS, or members of the LGBTQ+ community trying to get equal rights.
But does this beautiful vision, no matter what century, actually exist? It has never been easy to climb the corporate ladder, but what is it all worth if you lose your family and friends and become a workaholic? You could try the other way and become a one hit wonder on YouTube, but then you lose your privacy. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Even so, many people still hold out hope for the American dream.