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The American Dream: Fact or Fiction?

Bill is a freelance writer. Bill is an author. Bill is a human. What "expertise" he may have has been gained from experience.

In his 1931 book, The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams spoke of the American Dream:

“But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

Interesting that Adams’ book was written in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression, a time in our country when hope of ever seeing the American Dream was possibly at its lowest. Or was it?

The year is now 2020, and I would suspect that the concept of the American Dream may very well be, at this very time, a myth for millions rather than an attainable concept. It is interesting also that in Adams’ view, the dream pertains as much to social order as to possessions and status. I suspect, and this is only my opinion, that this idea of an American Dream has changed in nature over time. During the ’50s and ’60s, when the economy was booming, it is my guess that if you polled Americans they would have told you that the American Dream had much more to do with possessions and status.

So what does the Dream mean today? As of this writing, the nation is still struggling to rise above a crippling economic recession. Unemployment is still high, the real estate market is still floundering, jobs are still being outsourced for cheaper labor, and government leaders are battling over the proper path to take. What does the average American feel about the Dream today? Has the Dream changed in nature once again? Is it even attainable?

A bit More History

The Dream, of course, has its origins in the Declaration of Independence. The unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the bedrock foundation for this nation. Immigrants streamed to this country by the millions, searching for a better life and an opportunity to live according to those principles of freedom. It was believed with great conviction that a person had the opportunity in the United States to succeed, to carve out a good life, and even to attain greatness.

They plodded across the country, headed west by wagon, horseback and on foot, chasing The Dream. They invented, they improved upon inventions, they begged, borrowed and yes, stole, to gain a foothold on which they could stake their claim.

Many succeeded! Stories were passed down from generation to generation, stories of success in the Land of Plenty, stories of a land bountiful in riches and hope. If a man was willing to work hard enough and sacrifice enough, then he could grab his piece of the Dream and never let go.

Was That a Reality?

Without a doubt the deck was stacked against several of the card players at the Dream table. Blacks kept drawing a pair while their white counterparts held flushes. Indians were not even allowed at the table, given instead a place next to the spittoon buckets in the corner. Women were told to wait in the closet for decades until it was determined that even they could buy into the game if they could come up with the ante.

Still, rags to riches stories were plentiful, and there was no doubt that a white man, showing ingenuity and determination, could in fact find The Dream.

A Dose Of Reality

The Great Depression was the great Dream-buster. Suddenly white and black, man and woman, all were playing the game, only many of the cards were missing from the deck. Where once there was hope, suddenly there was despair. Where once there was reward for hard work, suddenly there was no work at all. The American Dream became a myth except for those few who now held all the cards and were not letting anyone else sit at the table. Darwinism took on a whole different meaning as crops blew across the Plains in a dust cloud of mammoth proportions and executives found that buying on margin was the equivalent of shoving a .357 Magnum in one’s mouth.

Patriotism Leads The Way

Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, once the patriotic fervor was awakened the American Dream was re-born. Pearl Harbor awakened the slumbering industrial giant and men, women and children helped prepare this country to protect the American Dream and way of life. I have no doubt that the welder in San Diego, the farmer in Topeka, and the riveter in Minneapolis would have all said in 1941 that the American Dream was a dream of liberty.

Time Marches Onward

After the War, the Age of Consumerism gained momentum. Buy, work harder, buy some more. The American Dream had once more changed identity, now looking more like a home mortgage and a new sedan than any red-white-and blue war poster. Freedom took a back seat to loan applications and the newest appliances. Why hang clothes on a line when for a buck a month you could punch a button and the job was done quickly? Why live in a three-room apartment when a new home in the suburbs awaited you; true, it would require both parents working, but that was a small price to pay for a den and extra bathroom.

The American Dream was alive and well, like some punch-drunk boxer who finds new strength in his right cross. A new chant rose from the steel mills of Pennsylvania and the assembly lines of Detroit. “Work now, pay later and never lose sight of the Dream.”

Where is the Reality in it all?

It all reminds me of a dog race I once saw on television, the dogs all chasing that plastic rabbit, in some cases running themselves into the ground, for a prize they never could catch. Today I look at the faces of the people I pass on the street and I see the thousand-yard stare. If hope isn’t dead it is at the very least on a vacation to points unknown. If the American Dream is defined as financial stability in this country, then to the average American, those in the ignominious 99%, the Dream is on life-support. The best that can be hoped for is to keep the life raft floating while the passengers bail with a spoon.

If the American Dream is defined as living in a land where the possibilities are endless for every man and woman, then again I will be the bearer of bad news and say that I have serious doubts.

If, however, the American Dream is defined as having the opportunity to attain happiness, I am more than willing to buy into that Dream. We all have the opportunity for happiness simply because happiness is not dependent on any outside force. It’s an inside job and always has been. No matter your status in life, inner-happiness is attainable, and all it takes is willingness.

James Adams wrote of a land where the social order allowed everyone the chance to rise to their fullest stature and to be recognized for what they are. Do I, personally, believe that is true today? Yes, I do. Taken literally I believe everyone has that opportunity; however, I also believe the playing field is again seriously slanted towards those who have an advantage, whether it be the color of their skin, the ancestors they had, or the socio-economic landscape they live in.

My own American Dream

I love a challenge. Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll work round the clock to prove you wrong. Tell me that a sixty-three year old man can’t make it as a writer and I’ll kick out ten-thousand words per day to improve my chances. Tell me I have no reason to be happy and I’ll tell you that you are an idiot.

I have all the tools I need to succeed and realize the American Dream, no matter how you define it.

The American Dream is no more than a concept that can be changed on an individual basis. Do I believe I can become a best-selling author somewhere down the road? I certainly think it is possible and that has nothing to do with ego. Do I believe I can live a life of happiness and love? Most definitely for those things are dependent only on me.

In the final analysis, I don’t believe the American Dream is limited to Americans. Rather than call it the American Dream, I prefer to think of it as The Dream! We all have them. We all have aspirations and goals. We all have visions of a better life. The only question that remains is how are we going to make those dreams a reality?

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Bill Holland

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2012:

Soconfident, thank you for taking the time to visit, and I appreciate your kind words. Times are hard, but I still believe in dreams.

Derrick Bennett on October 23, 2012:

Awesome and power article. Back then the american was limited to certain people but things do seem to changing even though times are still hard. Nice message

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 28, 2012:

I have some concerns, obviously, about this topic TT! I hope it isn't dead too because I've got plans. No worries on missing it; it's not like you don't anything else to do. :)

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 28, 2012:

I sure hope the Dream isn't dead. I have a couple of them and would hate to think that all my time and effort that I'm devoting to them is for nothing. Great topic, Bill. :) Sorry I missed this the first time around.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2012:

Thank you once again Jainismus!

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on August 09, 2012:

Interesting Hub, thank you for sharing the information.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2012:

You got it Sha!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 08, 2012:

Thanx, Bill. When I get home.....

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2012:

Sha, email away.....holland1145@yahoo.com

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 08, 2012:

Hmmmm. Maybe we should have an email conversation.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 07, 2012:

Sha, it is a huge step...I took it but I really had no choice....I was forced to because all other options were gone.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 07, 2012:

I don't have a doubt either, Bill. I just have to grow the balls to let all the unpaid baggage go and deal with the repercussions.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 07, 2012:

Sha, it was interesting researching the Dream concept. Researchers over time have basically said the same thing you just said, detailing the change in philosophy over the years. Sad but obviously true.

Yes, you do have a conundrum, but it is one you can handle and I have no doubt what your decision will be eventually.

sending hubs and love,

bill

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 07, 2012:

How profound, my friend! The American Dream was not meant to be competing for monetary gain and out-doing thy neighbor! The American dream was meant to give this "Land of Opportunity" to those who could make a good place for themselves and their families without the hinderance of dictate.

In the beginning it worked. The immigrants who created our Melting Pot society first gained citizenship, and proudly so, then became Americans and build communities and created tradition. They were proud to live a life of FREEDOM of CHOICE! They didn't rely on the government. They relied on themselves and each other.

Then came technology, greed, the almighty dollar and outdoing the Joneses.

We have lost sight of what the American Dream was intended to be for all who live in and love this country. We've become so "ladder" driven that we've gone into tremendous personal debt. We've been forced to work for others' gain in order to obtain and maintain.

And now we are drowning!

We're pushed along a conveyor belt, headed for checkout. We're robots who have to put the pedal to the metal to try to keep up. And we never get there. We get farther and farther behind because the debt grows and grows until we are smothered.

This is not what our founders meant when they pled for us to strive for the American Dream!

I have a dream and you know what that dream is, Bill. But someone else's derivation of what the word means, took society's mind and brain washed it. We've all gotten sucked into it.

I'm 55 and I'm drowning. But I'll be damned if I die without achieving my dream! So, I find myself in a conumdrum: should I stay (in debt) or should I go (towards my dream and be damned those who take my paycheck??)!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 28, 2012:

Hey Theresa, so nice to see you again. I hope all is well with you; I don't think I've seen a hub from you in awhile. Must go check now! Thank you!

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on July 28, 2012:

I thought this was great the first time I read it -- don't know why I didn't leave a comment then. It was well worth reading again. Take care. Theresa

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

Jlava, I am flattered and honored to be compared to your grandfather. Thank you for that precious gift. I doubt you know this....how could you...but I have a gruff exterior. People who don't know me always think I'm angry about something....not sure why or how to change that, but once they get to know me they realize I'm the exact opposite. Anyway, I want you to know how important that comment was to me. Thank you!

Jennifer Vasconcelos from Cyberspace and My Own World on July 24, 2012:

Billy when I read your Hubs I remember my humanity. Thanks for giving me that gift. I too believe that The Dream is alive. Don't know if I ever shared this with you but remind me of my Granddad. A simple man just trying to live a good life. Always took care of what he loved and fought for what he believed in. Generous and Honest to a fault though often misunderstood - he had a gruff exterior but his actions spoke volumes. He may have suffered much but he did so with Grace. He didn't have a lot in terms of material wealth but what he had he gave freely. Honorable and Admirable all the days of his life. He lived on his own terms, ate too much, smoked to much and still lived to be 84. I doubt he dwelled on his problems, he just dealt with them and moved ahead. I think he outlived most of his siblings. Some of my best lessons came from him.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

Greg, thank you very much, and I appreciate the follow. I'm always happy to follow a fellow teacher.

Greg Horlacher from Grand Prairie, TX on July 24, 2012:

Thank you for this hub. I already consider it a classic. I've had so many Facebook arguments about this subject. Your article is my new go-to reference.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

Mary, how can we fail with you and I leading the way? :) Thank you my dear friend; some day we will sit as friends over coffee and share some happiness.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

Rajan, answered......thank you again!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 24, 2012:

Rajan, very difficult for certain strata in certain countries, but I do agree, we all have a version of the American Dream. Thank you as always, Rajan; you are a good man.

Mary Craig from New York on July 24, 2012:

Hi Bill! Hi Bev! Yes, saying hello and smiling at people you know, and even people you don't know brings them happiness which of course will eventually bring you happiness. (You know I love happiness.)

The American Dream, or just The Dream, is all about happiness. Right now things are tough and people need to find their own happiness and we all know its not easy when times are tough. You are lighting the way with this hub and your happiness campaign. Consider me a follower and hopefully an ambassador!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 24, 2012:

This is a universal dream Bill. All of us have dreams to make it in a certain way. Our past leaders had a dream to make the country a level playing field so that each one of us who nurtured a dream and was prepared to work hard was given the opportunity to realise it. Over time and with change in leadership and its political tilt, the dream has become difficult to attain for a certain strata of society, in certain countries.

A very informative and interesting read my friend.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 24, 2012:

This is a universal dream Bill. All of us have dreams to make it in a certain way. Our past leaders had a dream to make the country a level playing field so that each one of us who nurtured a dream and was prepared to work hard was given the opportunity to realise it. Over timw and with change in leadership and its political tilt, the dream has become difficult to attain for a certain strata of society, in certain countries.

A very informative and interesting read my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2012:

Ruby, I normally don't see you comment in the mornings. Welcome....and yes...great is always the culprit. Thank you my dear!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on July 23, 2012:

I still believe in the American Dream. When we stop dreaming / hoping, what is there? I believe in equality for all and i believe we can get there. It starts in the heart of man. Greed is the culprit. GREAT article....

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2012:

Dexter, you are speaking my language my friend! It will take a grassroots effort the kind of which we haven't seen in a very long time in this country.

Thank you my friend; always nice to have you visit.

Dexter Yarbrough from United States on July 23, 2012:

Hi Billybuc! "The Dream" is certainly attainable, however, there are many obstacles that have been placed in the path of some and not others. I think we as a people need to come together and work collectively to make gains in the era we live in today. I am certainly not talking about socialism! I am talking about lending a helping hand and having it returned so that many can move forward.

Great hub!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2012:

Dianna, it's always a pleasure to have you visit. Thank you for your kind words; I know that you get this!

Dianna Mendez on July 22, 2012:

The American Dream is still there but some are tired of trying to pursue it. We need to revive the hope and encourage others to keep focused and strive to attain it. Your series and videos as part of that rethinking process -- keep them coming. Loved your video's focus on happiness, not waiting on government to help, and to follow through with random acts of kindness. Voted up!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Lindalou, thank you very much and your comment was excellent. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a detailed comment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Beckie, I'm in your corner and I'm convinced you can do anything you want. Go get them girl and above all, remember how much I appreciate you.

Glad about that PMP!

love,

bill

Linda from Texas on July 22, 2012:

We should all have a dream, along with the motivation to make it happen. Obtaining a dream should be like losing weight, one small step at a time. You can't expect to go from poverty to Beverly Hills without a few stops in between.

I live in a small town and there are so many who blame others for their plight. Its not their fault they lost that job, the fault lies with the person who ratted on them for stealing. Living on a low budget is not a reason to keep you from obtaining your dream. Get off that couch and stop feeling sorry for yourself and go find that dream.. make it happen because its not going to come a'knockin.

Your life is what you make it. With faith and motivation you can do anything.

Thanks for posting such a thought provoking hub.

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on July 22, 2012:

Bravo Billy - The American Dream means something different for everyone. I, like you count myself among the fortunate. My American Dream consists of keeping my loved ones and dear friends safe and happy.

Inner peace is also my American Dream. I haven't reached it yet. Do I think I can You bet.

Great addition Billy. You did good sir!!! And I didn't even have a PMP moment! XO

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Not biased, Mhatter; you just know what works for you.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 22, 2012:

The American Dream worked for me. So I guess I am bias.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

I do too, Vox, so thank you!

Jasmine on July 22, 2012:

I have no idea what to think about the American dream, but your hub was an interesting read. I love the vintage photos of your family.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

tobusiness, you are right on in your comments. Happiness is life....and life is happiness. It's up to us to find it.

Thank you my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Ann my friend, I see you have a new hub. I will be there shortly and as always I am grateful for your visit and your following. Thank you sincerely and bless you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Georgie, I love it....that catcher's mitt is oiled and ready to go....good for you! Thank you for your kindness; it is a pleasure knowing and following you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Patty, you can stow away the tissues for another day. :) I gain such happiness just from writing and knowing there are those out there who appreciate what I write. I'm not sure I'll ever see financial success from it, but I do know I find inner peace from writing and that's all that really matters to me.

Bless you my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Gail, I don't know where this hub came from. I was reading an old book that talked about the American Dream and I guess that got me going on a meandering thought process. I'm glad you enjoyed it my friend and I hope you are well and happy.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on July 22, 2012:

'The Dream' every man hungers for it, but it is very elusive. We believe the dream is money, wealth, fame, if only we could win the lottery our life would be perfect, but it never is.

The dream is to be happy and contented, a simple concept, but almost impossible to achieve.

Another great write, thank you for sharing.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 22, 2012:

Very interesting, billy. This of course applies to Britain and probably anywhere else in the world too. I agree that it is up to the individual to make of life what s/he will, regardless of privilege or means; but it's definitely easier if you have the money! That said, of course you're right that happiness is an inner state and under our own control most of the time. As for you becoming a successful writer - you've already succeeded and I've no doubt your success will expand; you have a talent for it. I would say my dream is to be able to say that I achieved and that I made a difference (mostly to my children!). Voted up and interesting. All the best, as ever. Ann

GH Price from North Florida on July 22, 2012:

I think the American Dream differs from person to person. The cool thing about being American is that we actually have a chance of having those things. I think Ben Franklin said something to the effect that "The constitution only gives you the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." I got my catchers mitt ready to go. It's all about how you play those cards you're dealt.

You are an amazing writer and I always look forward to your Hubs! :)

Patty Kenyon from Ledyard, Connecticut on July 22, 2012:

AWESOME Hub!! I am glad I didn't need tissues this time...or did I? Economically, times are hard for the average person/family regardless of where they are from.

When I was much younger, I thought the American Dream was to own a house with a white picket fence...working extremely hard, my husband and I were the first in our families to buy a house (no picket fence) in 1998--both of our parents rented.

However, we Missed the point(we were young and in our early 20's)--I worked 70+ hours a week (I had to travel a lot for the company I worked for) and my husband worked 45 hours a week so that we could have material possessions...we already started our family and that truly should have been our focus and our Dream...we learned that money does not buy happiness and things changed quickly.

In regards to your Hub, Did I need a tissue? Any tears shed was because this was sooooo beautifully and inspirational written!!! I don't doubt that you will be a best selling writer!!!!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on July 22, 2012:

This was an interesting, thought-provoking hub. I do believe the American Dream has meant different things to each generation and even to individuals within a given generation, therefore it is constantly being refined and updated.

There has never been an even playing field especially for minorities and women.

To me, happiness is definitely an inside job not dependent on financial riches, although I do believe that one needs to be able to provide basic shelter and food for oneself and family before happiness is attainable.

Am voting this hub up across the board except for funny.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Cyndi, I really believe that change will only happen one person at a time....it takes people believing that they can bring about change, and then acting on it. I also think we are about to see a major revolution in the way people view life and the world.....I think we'll see a movement toward simplicity. Anyway, I hope I'm right.

Thanks Sis! Keep doing your thing and good things will happen.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Thank you Janine! Have a great Sunday!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 22, 2012:

Well right back at you Bill, because you have constantly since at first have gotten to know you made my heart happy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a warm open and thoughtful person. I mean it your friendship and support means the world to me!!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 22, 2012:

I kept thinking about the concept of the American Dream and then you summarized it so beautifully at the end: it's a Dream! I think that perhaps the Dream - for all, because we are such an interconnected world - will change shape. Instead of being one of consumerism, I think it'll be more about personal success, time with family, and perhaps less "things." Furthermore, using the concept of PIPO, I really think people can and will make a difference if they set their minds to it. It takes work and time, but I firmly believe in changing the world, one day, one tiny piece at a time until the bigger goal is achieved. Thanks for sharing this, Big Bro! (HUGS)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Thanks, Kelley, and I agree with you. I think throughout history it has been used negatively at times, but each individual can mold it to our own purposes and set our goals accordingly. Thank you as always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Janine, you just made my heart happy! I love the friendships I have gained on HubPages. You are a good person who elevates others by your personality and love of life. Never forget the impact you have on your readers and those around you. Thank you!

kelleyward on July 22, 2012:

Hi Bill, I think the American dream is still alive today but as you said it has changed with the times, I guess that's what makes it a dream. It's attainable but also movable to the generation and time of the present day. Great hub as always. Voted up and useful! Kelley

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 22, 2012:

Oh Bill, thank you for that compliment. My dad and your dad sound a lot alike. My mom has always been my driving force and the person who made me who I am today. She is truly another person in my life that I thank god for every day of my life. Totally agree Bill and that is why I do try so hard to constantly remind myself of all the good and positive in this world and my life. You are definitely a huge positive in my life and very happy to have gotten to know you and consider you a friend. Thanks!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Janine, what a nice person you are. My dad told me one day, when he was not happy with me at all, that I needed to get with reality and realize when things were bad and deal with it instead of living in my dream world. Well, he was wrong. There is nothing wrong with concentrating on the positives in life; I don't allow the negatives to control my thinking and I never will. Thank you my friend.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on July 22, 2012:

Bill, my kids are napping so finally I am here and time to catch up a bit so to speak. Yet another inspirational hub from you and do agree that we all have dreams and the major theme is totally happiness. I can tell you even unemployed and only having one income to support us, I am very happy just knowing that I have my husband and kids to lean on. Could things be better of course they could, but I have never been one to dwell on the negative for too long and still try very hard to find the positives in my life to keep me going. That said I loved this article, it was so rich in history and whole heartedly agree with how you brought it home in the end. I have no doubt you will be a famous writer in the future and I can say I knew him when! Voted up and shared too!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Star, your words are true; dream + effort....what a concept! :) Thank you so much for adding to the discussion!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Mark, I loved your video. Well done my friend and of course I concur with your comments. Thank you buddy!

Curiad on July 22, 2012:

Bill, you have hit the nail on the head here. The "American Dream" that has always been fed to society is a sham. It was a sham during the days of early immigration, and is a sham now. I spoke of this briefly in my latest video by chance and you have written here so intelligently and clearly what the true "Dream" is, or should be.

Bravo my friend!

Starmom41 on July 22, 2012:

I think it has a lot to do with priorities- to many people, it's about "he who dies with the most toys, wins," "outdoing the Joneses," "nothing is good unless it's perfect," etc.

People are not taught "dream + effort = accomplish;" instead, they're taught "never be satisfied," & individuals with that outlook can never be happy no matter what they have or do.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Carol, thank you for great thoughts. I think we are seeing more and more people switch to our way of thinking...part of that is out of economic necessity, but part of that runs deeper....as we age I think we start to appreciate the little things in life that cost nothing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Travel, I have always loved the label "sheeple" because it is quite accurate. Good for you for taking the necessary steps to rid yourself of the false trappings of happiness. As you may know, I started that process six years ago and I have never been happier. Thank you my friend for the great comment.

carol stanley from Arizona on July 22, 2012:

Of course the American dream for every one is totally different. And the dream changes as we age. I used to love having a fancy car ---maybe an ego thing. Today I am happy with a car that gets from point A to point B with no unwanted activity. My American dream is to pay our bills, enjoy good health and have some fun. Many years ago it was a fancy house, car and ways to spend money. We learn to appreciate so many things that passed by in our youth. Thanks for great thoughts.

Katheryn from United States on July 22, 2012:

Billy - I guess it's whether you buy into the "American Dream" marketed to the general public of our need to never be satisfied and we must always pursue wanting bigger, better and more, because that is what we are, as good Americans, supposed to do; or finally get the real picture, that the "Dream" can be whatever suits a particular person and does not have to be about having more things. I, for one, allowed myself for many years to be brainwashed about all the things I really "must" have. That is all just an illusion to make the sheeple keep buying more in search of the "Dream". I am taking steps to rid myself of continuing to follow like a good sheeple do. I'm done drinking their kool-aid. As always, great hub...thanks for the space to rant!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Interesting questions Lord; food for thought as I go about my day. I wish you well, appreciate you greatly, and whatever your dreams are, I hope they come easily and often.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Josh, thank you! I do believe I agree with everything you wrote. :) You will do well, nephew, as long as your attitude stays the same. I wish you happiness always!

Joseph De Cross from New York on July 22, 2012:

Well done Bill. We all have our Dreams. But seems that destructive beings will be around us. We live by the day and by the hour. So whoever thinks is going to get away with murder on earth, he/she is just dreaming. I admire your words Bill but what about prejuidice dreamers? Are we going to reach our dreams facing druggies and people who text while they are driving behind our dreams? We just have to dream day by day...Your view is laudable Bill, thanks for another positive hub for us all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Dr. Pooja, thank you for that interesting comment. Great thoughts indeed!

Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on July 22, 2012:

Bill,

I wholeheartedly agree with how you concluded this article. The American Dream should always be about attaining happiness. If we were to base it on outside forces, we would be missing the point. True happiness, living the American dream, is deciding to react positively to the negative in and around our life. I know personally that if I were to look at the negative experiences in this world and use those to foster my "dream" or "vision", that I would not be a happy person. But, rather I am a very happy person, because I have chosen and will always choose to look on the bright side and let the world run its course. I sometimes slip up, of course, don't we all? But, I just get back up and don't let those trials hold me down. So, the American Dream? Does it exist? It does for me!

Thanks for this awesomer hub Bill, I really appreciated it! You did an exceptional job!

Dr Pooja on July 22, 2012:

I am not an American but have loads of family settled in the land of dreams.Personally I feel we all should study well,work hard and enjoy the fruits of our struggle and most important save for the rainy day.That is what the middle class Indian has learnt from its forefathers who have struggled to lead life with dignity after independence.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Julie, I think the manufactured dream that we were fed as kids is elusive at best. I think the dream that we manufacture is as close as we want it to be. Thank you my friend; the more I know you the more I like you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

Keith, there is actually historical evidence to support your theory about immigration. It was a facade to get people to move over here....and then a facade to get people to move out west....and so on. HOwever, like you, I believe it is possible. Great comment! Thank you my young friend.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on July 22, 2012:

The American Dream always feels like an elusive concept that isn't possible to attain. You brought it close today Billy. :)

KDuBarry03 on July 22, 2012:

You are absolutely right on with this. Back in the day of immigration, people were put to hard work for little pay and barely any freedom. Has the American Dream become a myth for so many now? I have to argue yes for some and no for others. However, I do believe that the American Dream can be reached if one pursues to make it into a reality. Dreaming is great, but partaking is better.

Great hub, as always, bill!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 22, 2012:

John, thank you my friend! I'm sure it differs with each person. For me, it is living a life of happiness and simplicity.

Johnkadu123 from Toronto, Canada on July 22, 2012:

Thanks for the hub. I suppose the American dream is what you make of it. If you work hard and pay your taxes then chances are that you get something out of being a citizen of the greatest nation on earth.

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