Can Anyone Achieve the American Dream?


Success is actually not what you think it is. Actually, success is that very brief moment in time when you reach the pinnacle of your journey after a long process of trying: this is succeeding, the approval of your hard work. But money, fame, and fortune in itself  aren’t success, they are rather luxuries. And success isn’t guaranteed like most say, some make it and others die trying—-and the American Dream? The American Dream isn’t just one general idea of progression for every American, it can vary. With that being said, the American dream is not attainable for all people and there is no one clear assertion for how to or who attains it; rather success happens upon sheer luck, for some are just destined for greatness, otherwise, depending on the circumstances surrounding you, success could practically be handed to you.

Some people miss the mark, fall short of glory, don’t fit the stereotype, or are just denied the opportunity for equality and success. It was said earlier that money, fame, and fortune in itself isn’t success… success actually satisfies you. Once you attain these temporary commodities in life, there is a price you must pay. Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the excerpt, “Why the Americans Are So Restless in the Midst of Their Prosperity”, describes this situation perfectly, the title in itself explains it all. Tocqueville wrote from his perspective, giving vivid detail on the American in the middle of his/her prosperity. He writes that the original source for the recklessness and impatience that an American displays is the fact that they have gone as far as they can go; they have been given everything a man could be given….yet, while bathing in their own greed and ego, are miserable amongst their riches. So does this sound like a dream? A man getting all the desires of his heart while never holding them dear, releasing them to “pursue fresh gratifications”: that sounds like a nightmare. But since the real purpose for wanting success is the ongoing pursuit of happiness, how can one be satisfied if the dream is not attainable for all?

Life is fleeting: this is the reason to want success all the more, but can one attain this dream that, at some times, seems to be an illusion? Langston Hughes wrote a poem called ,”Let America be America Again”, which introduced one the first examples of a black’s emotions in the early to mid-20th century. This was an example of someone, a whole race, being denied the dream and opportunity. Then, African Americans had few rights and freedoms, denied any public say, and treated like the lesser ethnicity. Segregation, the separation of races, was the implementation of the idea that the American Dream was just a myth and not everyone got a chance to live it out. Hughes, although he inspires that this country would one day become a dreamland for all, negatively explains in detail the mistreatment of a race. He goes back to how once the Spanish, Italian, and European explorers settled to find new land for their country; how the pilgrims and puritans found this land as a refuge for freedom of religion and from a cruel dictator; how the Sons of Liberty quarreled and fought Great Britain for independence. And Although slavery was abolished during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, African Americans were still being treated like bottom-feeders. This was being denied the dream.

Lebron James dunking on a fast break against the Houston Rockets.

Sheer luck and not fitting the prototype for the dream that you are after. This makes a person feel like everything that happens in life is vanity and all is meaningless if it has no purpose. If one fails, he thinks that life is pointless. There is the case for Lebron James, arguably the greatest of all time, who was born and raised by a single mother. He was extremely poor, having to move from friends’ house to friends’ house. But Lebron was slowly getting noticed by college scouts while in school because he had talent, exceeding greatly in basketball and football; and he lucked out sprouting to a 6’8” phenomenon by his senior year. James would end up skipping college, going to the NBA, win titles, break records, and the rest is history. But was this all meant for him? I mean, he came from poverty; this automatically reduces your chances for succeeding in life but given certain opportunities, James seized them and rose to fame.

Luck and chance are the same thing. And Lebron James’s story is one example of how success is not really an automatic happening nor is it a choice, but rather it happens to those who are destined for it or those who just happen to fall upon it. In Ben Shapiro’s “American Dream Faces New Reality”, he states, “ ‘No, success is really beyond our control,’. The quote supports the claim that we don’t control who is successful, nor do we decide if we will be successful; this means that the American Dream isn’t assured. Shapiro also wrote that the dream was an underlying idea, meaning that there is no clear idea what it is or how to attain it, verifying the fact that not just hard work will get you to the “Promised Land”.

Next time you see a huge celebrity on TV, consider their background and the circumstances that they were put in. And if one happens not to achieve his goal in life, know that only 14% of America finds wealth; this means 86% of America doesn’t make it. This lays down the unfortunate truth that the American Dream isn’t attainable for all people, one cannot be satisfied with just wealth, there is no clear assertion on how to or who attains it, and success happens upon chance.

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