June 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
In preparation for the June 28 etcetera meeting, here are excerpts from and links to a list of articles about the American Dream. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for ongoing posts about songs, forums, and articles addressing this issue.
“The “American dream” has powered the hopes and aspirations of Americans for generations. It began as a plain but revolutionary notion: each person has the right to pursue happiness, and the freedom to strive for a better life through hard work and fair ambition. But over time, this dream has come to represent a set of expectations about owning things and making money. So what exactly is the American dream? How did we come to define it? And is it changing?” From “A Better Life: Creating the American Dream,” by Kate Ellis and Ellen Geuttler. This website starts with “The Roots of the American Dream” and ends with “A New American Dream?”
“Along with millions of jobs and 401(k)s, the concept of a shared national ideal is said to be dying. But is the American Dream really endangered, or has it simply been misplaced? Exploring the way our aspirations have changed—the rugged individualism of the Wild West, the social compact of F.D.R., the sitcom fantasy of 50s suburbia—the author shows how the American Dream came to mean fame and fortune, instead of the promise that shaped a nation.” “Rethinking the American Dream”, in “Vanity Fair”
“Traditionally, Americans have sought to realise the American dream of success, fame and wealth through thrift and hard work. However, the industrialisation of the 19th and 20th centuries began to erode the dream, replacing it with a philosophy of “get rich quick”. A variety of seductive but elusive strategies have evolved, and today the three leading ways to instant wealth are large-prize television game shows, big-jackpot state lotteries and compensation lawsuits. In this article, Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, examines why so many Americans are persuaded to seek these easy ways to their dream.” From “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire: Changing Conceptions of the American Dream,” from the American Studies Resources Center at Liverpool John Moore University
“America is a land built by immigrants, a patchwork of different cultures and creeds. But despite many differences, Americans are held together by the promise of a better life. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Forbes.com, this three-part-series examines the idea of the American Dream. In part one, we ask more than 60 great achievers to answer the question, “What is the American Dream?” In part two, we take a look at the pursuit of property, and an icon of that dream: a house with a white picket fence. And in part three we dissect the promise –and the myth– that every American has an opportunity to make their dreams come true.” This list in Forbes Magazine includes Maya Angelou, P.J. O’Rourke, Chuck Norris, and Nancy Pelosi among many others.
“Pursuit of happiness is the distinctly American Dream, proclaimed front and center in our Declaration of Independence. You’ll find no such aspiration announced in the credo of any other nation, state, society or people. Furthermore it is a dream come true. Americans are good at pursuing happiness. And the Americans who pursue happiness most diligently show that we’re also good at running it down and killing it.” I can’t resisting quoting the aforementioned P.J O’Rourke.
“For most Americans, the American Dream invokes ideals of financial security, freedom and personal well-being for one’s self and one’s family. Interestingly, most Americans – a full 75 percent – told us they had “already achieved some measure of the American Dream.” Most (63 percent) were also confident in their individual ability to reach that dream. Yet, while people still have faith in the American Dream, they are less certain about the future.” An excerpt from ” The American Dream: Not Given but Earned “, by Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit policy center, and Michael F. Ford is the founding director of the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University.
“As the 19th century neared its close, thoughtful men were well aware that the dynamics of the old century would not be those of the new. The rough equality and competition allowed by a seemingly limitless western frontier, had given way to a harsh competition in which the Robber Barons of the age threatened to deny hope and opportunity to everyone else…. The nation’s top political leaders also knew that the new century required a new vision. Citizens were worried, even frightened, so they listened intently for an explanation of how the country was changing and what the implications would be for them. Every leading president of the 20th century used his first Inaugural Address to answer two questions – How did we get to this place in our history and how do we insure that the fundamental dynamics of the nation’s early history live into the future? Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, all asked how to secure the American Dream in their time.” Except from “Pursuing the American Dream,” by Cal Jillson.