Neil J. Smith

The American Dream:
Is it Still Achievable?

The United States, by all its flaws, is still considered the land of opportunity for many. Its quintessential American dream still rings true to any idealist who will one day “make it.”

“It becomes insurmountable indeed. Indeed, it is placing the carrot before the horse.”—page 34, On the Ropes

For those unaware, the American dream is the steadfast belief that anyone can attain their own version of success in society regardless of where they were born or what class they come from. To achieve this American dream, the person must:

  • Make sacrifices;
  • Take risks; and
  • Earn it by hard work and not chance 

If you are unsure if you have “made it.” Some of the measurements that meet this American dream include:

  • Owning your property;
  • Owning your own business; and
  • Carving your life on your terms

Many novels have talked about this dream. From “The Great Gatsby” to “On the Ropes: A Tale of the ’60s,” we soon realize that this American dream slowly becomes unachievable as the obstacles to reaching it becomes insurmountable.

Nevertheless, we still root for the underdogs. We hoped Percival Jones would make it to the Olympics, much like we hoped Gatsby would acquire Daisy’s love.

Unfortunately, such dreams are more likely to be crushed than achieved. It’s heartbreaking, soul-crushing, and gut-wrenching when your hard work never pays off. You soon realize that once you let such dreams go, you wander off to find something else. Perhaps find a new dream or seek a less ambitious goal that is respectable enough.

Can We Still Achieve the American Dream?

“Suddenly more afraid than ever before, he found himself sinking under a tidal wave of doubt. He was less than nobody under the circumstances and could be easily killed on these parlous streets, in these deeply troubled times.

Without raising a stir. His story would be dismissed as bitter sweet. A man who’d lost the chance of realizing the highly desired and globally envied American dream. Thus shaken, he turned and ran, though not from the gun!”—pages 23-24, On the Ropes

Much of the American dream hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, as the costs of housing and loans continue to rise, the reality of owning your own home becomes less likely. As of 2020, only 47.9% of millennials owned a home. With many of these millennials slowly reaching their 30s, that home ownership dream becomes less likely.

However, there is still hope. With President Joe Biden’s current announcement of student loan forgiveness, perhaps a new generation can finally have a slice of that seemingly unattainable dream. We can only hope.

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