What Does it Mean to be American?

Posted by Eddie F. Montana
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To me, being American is much more than just being an American citizen or living in American.

To me, being American is much more than just being an American citizen or living in American. It seems people in America have a responsibility, and an obligation to be the best person they can be. It’s part of being an American, and another part is doing your part to keep society running properly. One of the best things about this place we call home, is that the country is basically run completely by the people inside it. Another great thing about being an American is the ability to have the American dream. In an American Creed article by Forbes, the American dream is described as “anyone, through gumption and hard work, can achieve any degree of financial success.” But, a survey ran by Erik Sherman of Forbes magazine said that only 23% of people thought it was common for someone to start poor, and get rich, even though that is categorized by many people as the American dream. A different study by Pew Research center, said that 36% of U.S. adults say their family has achieved the American dream, while another 46% say they are “on their way” to achieving it. This study defined the American dream as “freedom of choice in how to live, having a good family life and retiring comfortably.” Part of the reason Americans feel they haven’t achieved the American Dream and don’t have a chance to, is because our country has gotten so far from its ideals.

In Tribe, Sebastian Junger says, “For humans to be happy, they need autonomy, competence, and community.” People need to feel competent at what they do, authentic in their lives, and they need to be connected to others. Right now, in America people don’t live in tight knit communities, and most people don’t like what they do for a living. This leads to depression, and makes it almost impossible to achieve the American dream. Junger says, “It’s also why when people come back from war they suffer from PTSD and depression.” In order for everyone to get the American Dream, America needs to go back to it’s ideals, that every man is created equal. Another problem is that our prison systems are dominated by minorities. The Federal Bureau of Prisons shows, around 50% of people in prison are minorities. That statistic alone proves to me that the American dream is far from where it needs to be. Right now, everyone doesn’t have the same opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

America was built on the idea that all men are created equal, and that there shall be liberty and justice for all. However, today our country is split into multiple sections, from our politics, races, and lifestyles. In the past, we still had close to the same diversity, but we were closer as a nation, and didn’t let problems split us apart, rather bring us closer together. Junger, in Tribe, also says, “intact communities are more likely to survive than fragmented ones.” Our nation needs to get back to how people lived community wise, at the beginning of time, where there was tight knit communities.

Being American means to be free and have equal opportunity. Also to have the ability to do what you want, how you want, and where you want. The amendments are what give us those freedoms, like the freedom of speech, and the freedom of religion. We’ve strayed from our ideals created by the founding fathers, and became more individualistic, and selfish. America needs to get back to the idea that everyone is created equal.

Published on May 23, 2018
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