The United States has always been considered a place of opportunity; where elbow grease could bring a lowly member of society to the tippy-top; where suburbia, a white picket fence and 2.5 kids could be all that a person could want. For many, achievement of the Dream has always involved pure hard work and determination. The large amount of emphasis placed on a person’s diligence embodies the opportunistic mentality of the American Dream. However, in this new modern era, society has broken through the boundaries of tradition and Americans have begun to dream bigger than the Dream. The question is, does the American Dream still live on at Leesville Road High?
Mrs. Price, a Cultural Media Literacy instructor at Leesville, teaches a unit on this very subject in her class.
“Key components such as capitalism, materialism, hard work, love and power help shape each individual’s own American Dream,” commented Price on the definition of the Dream. She agrees that the definition is changing with the times, to an extent. “The American Dream of this generation might not be the same as the one of a hundred years ago. What we consider important, valuable, and noble has evolved. However, I still think people see America as a land of opportunity and a place where you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps and start anew.”
This view of hard work being able to make people successful still strongly resonates in American society. Though the past definition of the American Dream contained being economically stable and settling down with a family, the new definition appears to emphasize an individual’s happiness, however unique it may be. Dreams are becoming more diverse as the next generation breaks free from the previous’ social norms. Daniel Cipriano, a Leesville senior, has dreams of becoming an actor.
“The farthest-reaching extent of my dream would be to go to New York or Hollywood,” commented Cipriano. “It’s every actor’s dream. If I don’t make it there, I’ll make it close.” The ideal of hard work plays an important part in Cipriano’s dream. His determination holds a key role in his realization of his goals – and so the idea of a land of opportunity echoes on in American society.
Unlike the typical American suburban dream of settling down in cookie-cutter house with a perfect lawn, Cipriano is choosing to travel to Europe after high school. “Hopefully I’ll be coming back with experience and a world view to help me in the future.” The suburban aspect to the American dream does not seem to fit the modern times. As the new generation matures, their choices grow different from the previous generation’s. Traditions and social norms from the past are slowly being dissolved, such as the role of women in society.
Whitley Lewis, a senior, comes from a typical background. “My family has two kids, my parents are still married, and they both work to support their family,” said Lewis. However, her future will take quite a different course than that of her elders’. “I’m going to NC State to major in Criminology, and I’ll be in Army ROTC while I’m there.”
Lewis agrees that America is definitely changing, along with the definition of the Dream. “Twenty years ago, women weren’t allowed in the Army. Now I have the opportunity to die for my country. I’m thankful for that, because in some countries women can’t even show their heads, let alone serve in the military.”
Women now will find it easier to possess the deterministic ideals of the American Dream due to their increased opportunities as society veers from the past’s traditions. This generation of women are less likely to be housewives and more likely to be independent and just as likely as men to be able to work for what they want. This aspect of opportunity continues to embody American values in the new age.
“I have the chance to make my dreams a reality,” commented Cipriano. “I have a much greater chance of having a happy lifestyle than a lot of people in other countries.”
So the American dream lives on in some ways and will lead the youth of the United States forward with opportunity in their minds and spirit in their hearts. Luckily, the dreams of Leesville students are able to destroy the barriers of previous tradition and represent each individual’s desires for true happiness.