The modern American Dream is a personal definition of success, but there is inadequate community which prevents achievement.

What is an “American”? James Truslow Adams stated in his book The Epic of America, that America is “...that dream in which life should be better, richer and fuller, with opportunity according to ability or achievement. Not a dream of motor cars and high wages, but of social order where men and women shall be able to attain the fullest stature, being recognized, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances" (pg. 214-215). The Library of Congress simplified this statement, saying, “It means to have a better, richer, and happier life, for all citizens.” This is why people retreated to America, according to a PBS Destination America. “For Freedom from Oppression, Want, Fear, Worship, and Freedom to Create.” This is what individuals arrived for, but are not achieving.

The modern American Dream is a personal definition of success, but there is inadequate community which prevents achievement. In Tribe by Sebastian Junger, studies show communities during wartime are happier and mental illness diagnoses decrease. Junger did research showing how modern society differs from tribal cultures, and how Americans have lost unity. Junger stated, “You can be surrounded by others, yet feel dangerously alone” (Pg. 18). Some believe the largest threats are external, like David Choi, in Business Insider. He says, “The largest threats are: Europe, The Middle East, and Asia.” If troops had to prevent an attack on American soil, the threat would be removed. Junger said that the way a foreign could destroy America, is silence, let us self destruct.

In , Why We Fight by Montana PBS, it spoke regarding citizens’ identity during World War II and how Americans had unity. Today we lack purpose, the belief of national unity. Junger spoke regarding these ideas of unity, stating, “Modern society has perfected making people not feel necessary” (Pg. XVII); “People feel better psychologically if they have involvement with their community” (Pg. 49); “Intact communities are more likely to survive than fragmented ones” (Pg. 58); and, “The beauty and the tragedy of the modern world is it eliminates situations that require people to demonstrate a commitment to the collective good” (Pg. 59). Opposing sides are common to humanity, but once society grasps the ability to view multiple opinions people will understand life's complexity. Deborah Tannen stated, “The truth is often not found in the extremes, but the complex middle.” The answer is neither left or right, so people must educate themselves on opposing views.

Look at Social Media’s influence, and they all use algorithms warping your perceptions. Whenever you digitally react, information is put into your profile because media wants to give you the best experience. The easiest way is to feed you with things you believe, but another reason is advertising. Social media is free, so how revenue generate? The Platform takes data about you and decides which advertisements fit you. Companies pay lots to display advertisements, so these won’t be advertisements you dislike.

The issue this creates is no one agrees or argues in a manner that persuades others. In The Atlantic is an article about division during elections. Conor Friedersdorf Stated “At Trump rallies people hold signs saying, ‘Lock Her Up’, and bash Hillary Clinton, yet at Clinton rallies people say, ‘If he is elected, I will move to a different country. Instead of supporting the person’s views they are voting for, they bash other candidates.”

Bridging the gap is nothing a single side of America can accomplish. We need a common purpose, a reason to unite against the division of this country, starting at an individual level, continuing to the state and national level. When people push aside selfish agendas we will begin to move towards truly united states, not united through land, but through people.




Columbus High School What It Means To Be American

This group is comprised of Columbus High School students in Columbus, Montana. They have written arguments with the National Writing Project's C3WP materials to answer the question "What does it mean to be American?" posed by Mark Meckler in the documentary film American Creed.

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