The American dream is the unattainable dream that our culture accepts as something we should all strive for to lead happy lives. The American dream consists of the possibility for everyone to work hard and be able to make lots of money for a successful life. Furthermore, today our American dream has evolved to the importance of one’s image, fame, and materialistic items (cars, mansions, and stupid meaningless items). One thrives to reach the American dream in pursuit of happiness through working hard to make lots and lots of money.
However, there are two things wrong with the American dream and I find that Tyler Durden from the film ‘Fight Club’ explains the issue with the American dream perfectly:
“I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
I think the quote really emphasizes all the ideas I would like to point out about the American dream. Our lives are not about living the way we want in order to make something better of ourselves. Instead our lives, aspirations, and happiness have been attached to another goal, one that most don’t ever reach; MONEY. Americans have allowed money to consume every part of their lives. High school students are pushed to go to the best colleges to get better paying jobs. The dream for our generation is not to do what we love, but to do anything that will essentially get us to the desirable dream of getting money. It is important to point out the fact that the American dream makes one believe that if one works hard enough, they will be able to achieve this dream of happiness. But the cold reality is that sometimes no matter how hard you work you may never make millions of dollars.
And let’s say you do, does this mean that you will be fulfilling a dream, in the sense that it will make you have a desirable life? According to Kenneth Lay, “I've not only pursued the American dream, I've achieved it. I suppose we could say the last few years, I've also achieved the American nightmare.”
So instead of the American dream pushing us to live fulfilling lives, it has done exactly the opposite. I think we should all take a step back, look at what we want out of our lives. Look at the essential things in our world that have nothing to do with money, or designer clothes. Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Kurt Vonnegut, “If you want an expert opinion, money doesn’t necessarily make people happy”. Essentially the American dream is falling apart, and people are not blind to it either.