What Does It Mean To Be American Essay – America has always been described as a unique country because of the unique heritage, values and ideologies that formed and governed the country. Such aspects have made people all over the world to refer to America while defining their dreams while living an attractive and successful life. Various books have since been written by different authors describing the American Dream. Such texts are essential in understanding what it means to be an American. In the beginning, being an American meant the prospect of a better future as well as living a comfortable life enhanced by the countless opportunities America supposedly had in abundance. It depicts an American Dream and was considered a symbol of America as a nation. However, the country experienced changes in its governance and culture that made the American Dream questionable. So it can be argued that the American dream is not as powerful as it once was when it comes to defining what it means to be an American.
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What Does It Mean To Be American Essay
Apparently, being an American means that one can achieve success in life regardless of family background and social status in society. America’s rich heritage suggests that through hard work, determination and focus, a person can achieve his/her dreams. Historically, America has had many individuals who have risen above the expectations of many and achieved success beyond belief. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a novel that can be used to confirm the claim that America is the land of opportunity and that Americans can succeed regardless of their social, political, and economic backgrounds. For example, despite a downtrodden past, Gatsby overcomes all obstacles on his way to become a rich man in America. Fitzgerald uses Gatsby to indicate that self-made success is a reality in America (Fitzgerald 36). Gatsby leads a life comparable to the upper class. Gatsby and Nick are ex-combatants of the First World War. The lavish parties that Gatsby throws show a man who has climbed the social ladder.
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In the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville came up with a description of American political culture that would make America not only a free nation but also a comfortable place to live. Alexis identifies liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, capitalism, and capitalism as the essential elements that lead Americans to great heights (Powell 5). Apparently, American politics places too much emphasis on hard work as the critical recipe for a prosperous nation. For example, capitalism promotes free trade, which allows businesses and other companies to thrive with little government involvement. The history of the American economy has largely depended on the adoption of a capitalist economy, which has led to massive accumulation of wealth as a nation.
There are reliable and stable institutions that are integral in helping the citizens of America achieve their American dream. America’s rich heritage is represented in institutions such as schools, laws, courts, the presidency, and all the arms of government (Nicholas 2). These pillars are essential to improving and improving the quality of life for Americans. Through such institutions, Americans were able to see beyond racism and other social problems that hindered their dreams. However, the dynamic nature of American society has led to emerging issues that can be seen as a threat to many Americans hoping to achieve their American dream. Corruption and other factors of social injustice have adversely affected these institutions. These challenges are stumbling blocks for many Americans who hope for a better future.
Being an American means living a life rich in fancy cars, fun and luxury. In the novel; In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses various characters to outline this nation. This aspect led to the division of American society into classes: upper, middle, and lower classes. The upper class are those who lead a comfortable and satisfied life as far as economic factors are concerned. The middle class lives an average life. They are not satisfied with their present economic and social condition. This makes them work harder to move into upper class citizens. Gatsby is one of the characters that expresses the struggles that middle class Americans face in trying to become upper class citizens.
After World War I, Gatsby returns and begins to enjoy a rich life. He has expensive cars (Rolls Royce) and servants working for him. Every Friday, five boxes of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiter in New York, and the same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid without the pulp. (Fitzgerald 43). The scene paints a vivid picture of the lives of high-class Americans. To live their American dream, they start owning luxury goods and have all the comforts of life that include food and other goods meant to improve their living standards. However, while the rich continue to live a life of comfort, the poor live in poverty and hardship.
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For example, while Gatsby continues to party at his house every Friday, eight servants, including an extra gardener, work all day with mops, scrub brushes, hammers, and garden shears, repairing the damage done the night before (Fitzgerald 43). While the rich in American society enjoy their lives (having well-paying jobs with favorable working conditions), the poor have to settle for low-paying jobs without favorable working conditions.
America is a target nation when it comes to terrorist attacks. Apparently America’s foreign policy has not received enough attention from countries from the Middle East such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. In order to protect its citizens, the US government, through its foreign policy, has combated terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda through war with countries that support such terrorist groups. Middle Eastern countries who feel that America is trying to control them do not like it because of America’s war on terror. Margaret believes in her letter that America has lost its way when it comes to the war on terror (Margaret 2). The letter claims that the country has focused on foreign security at the expense of internal security. However, the US Constitution does well because an enemy can easily enter US borders undetected.
Americans’ privacy and certain rights are being violated. Because of the surveillance instituted by the federal government, some American citizens are always being spied on, monitored, and profiled. This limits their freedom of movement and freedom to do what they want due to fear of being watched. These are some of the items addressed in Margaret’s letter to America (Margaret 2). In her letter, she claims that those e-mails are being monitored and controlled in the United States without the owner’s consent. Also, citizens’ personal files and files are searched as part of the security profile. This angered many citizens, while others felt America had lost its way, especially in the war on terror. What used to be a nation based on ideal values and heritage is now characterized by political intimidation and betrayal arising from the nation’s insistence on safety and security for its citizens.
Americans have also been harmed by bad governance that threatens to undermine the nation’s economic growth. Instead of focusing on improving the welfare of its citizens, the government plows money into foreign policies that produce unpredictable returns for the American people. The funding of the CIA and the training of Osama bin Laden (who later became a staunch enemy of the United States) are examples of foreign projects that have burdened Americans. These sentiments are shared by Margaret in her letter to America, where she laments that America’s economy has collapsed due to the poor tactics of those in management of the country (Margaret 2). This led to indications that if the United States could not produce certain goods on its own, it would eventually seize the goods produced by others.
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Some economic analysts claim that America is not the land of opportunity it once was. There are certain factors in the American economy that suggest that few people can achieve the American dream. Some downsides, such as rising unemployment rates, a shrinking economy, and growing inequality, have dampened some Americans’ hopes of living an American dream.
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