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Waking up from the American dream

The American Dream is a long-standing ideal. But, does it have any meaning for our generation?
The American Dream is a long-standing ideal. But, does it have any meaning for our generation?

Annual summer vacations to the Sunshine State, meatloaf dinners at 6 p.m. and the belief that with enough hard work all of your wildest aspirations will be achieved are the pillars of the American lifestyle, pillars of the American dream.

This idea that with enough elbow grease and grit you will achieve happiness is a mindset that once might have been true for some people. In today’s reality, America picks and chooses who can actually climb up the ladder and achieve that dream.

If hard work directly correlated with success, the exorbitantly wealthy would be seen paving roads or bussing tables. Why is it acceptable for an institution, let alone an entire nation, to condemn the hardest of its workers and justify it by hanging an unreachable dream above their heads?

The general framework behind the American dream is not entirely bogus. The idea that everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed genuinely would lead to momentous prosperity.

However, the luxury of the ability to chase success is not given to the entire population. This revelation is clear when an entire class of Americans have a completely different idea of success than the upper class. 

Robert Fulton, a highly renowned engineer during the industrial revolution said, “the American dream of rags to riches is a dream for a reason — it is hard to achieve; were everyone to do it, it wouldn't be a dream but would rather be reality.”

When asked if the American dream was made for her, first-year Miami University student Julianne Corcoran said the American dream is outdated. 

“I think the idea of the American dream was made for everyone but I think that how it's actually been executed, it's not in line with the [original plan],” Corcoran said. “There's definitely been more progress towards working [to] true equality for everyone, but there's still some systematic barriers, especially with women and just how deeply ingrained the patriarchy is.”

While America still may have a long way to go in making actual progress toward delivering what it set out to accomplish with the American dream, the need to act on this goal can be seen here on our own campus.

First-year Lindsey Hoff said the American dream has changed from when the idea was conceived.

“It definitely feels like the ability to do whatever I [want] especially applies here at Miami, but I [do] not think it quite applies to everyone in the same way as it did 100 years ago.”

It’s easy to gather that it’s impossible to be a successful person of color, woman or impoverished individual. It is just astronomically more difficult to do so. 

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For instance take Miami University’s current Student Body President Nyah Smith and Student Body Vice President Jules Jefferson. These women are the first Black president and vice president of the university, and have already had tremendous success in uplifting the entire campus as a whole. 

In order for the American dream to regain the ground it once held, America should focus on encouraging initiatives that would guarantee the underprivileged opportunities to succeed, instead of encouraging citizens to obtain the nuclear lifestyle.

Now this does not essentially pack every congress seat with a woman of color or every robe worn in the judicial branch must be a non-binary individual, but it does mean that America must not only give the opportunity to succeed to the underprivileged but also celebrate it. 

By dismantling this norm and prioritizing the core principles of the American dream, change and prosperity can be achieved by all individuals in the land of opportunity.

Kiser Young is a first-year strategic communication major from Beavercreek, Ohio. He is a contributor for both the opinion and entertainment sections at The Student and is a district 8 senator for Associated Student Government.