My American Creed: Living with the Discussion of a "Dream," but Never Seeing it Realized
The repercussions of a teen who realizes everything she was told about America is far from the truth. Its sounds slightly dramatic, sure, but becoming more aware of the social constructs in this country continues to surprise me.
Nature vs. Nurture- the age old debate usually surrounds discussions of personality, but the same comparison can be paralleled to American Creed. In this case, the nature is America itself, the media, the history books, and the phrases embedded in the nations documents and songs. We grow up hearing “All men are created equal” and “the land of opportunity.” The nurture, represented by each person's experiences, and real American Life. Much like personality, nature, stripped to its simplest form may be that all people like to be happy, regardless of their other traits. The same strategy can be used when examining America, the ideals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, are the broadest set of beliefs that define America. But through nurture many Americans, including myself, see firsthand these phrases disproven time and time again by living a life in this country.
The question then becomes, is the American Dream dead? Maybe not, but it increasingly less attainable. Or maybe, the dream is morphing into something new. Either way, the old ideals America has been promising about like success for everyone is quite the lie. Although, the iconic stories of Rockefeller or Ford are commemorated as self made achievement, it may just be luck and fate. When asking anyone, they can surely give an example of the American Dream, likewise can list examples of the opposite- the unlucky. In the “American Creed” documentary David M. Kennedy communicates the story of his own father, looking for success in a copper mine, only to be disappointed with failed business and succeeded by the Great Depression. Kennedy’s father followed the map to American success, but he, and millions of others, never got to the end of the rainbow.
My American Creed, follows some of the factors that the nation identifies itself with. I have the privilege to believe what I want, to choose where I want to go, and genuinely pursue my happiness. But, as time goes on, the country is becoming less reliant on small business owners and factory workers to run the economy. Instead, the demand for college educated and professional office jobs has increased exponentially. It doesn’t mean coming to America with nothing and achieving prosperity is impossible, but nonetheless the American Dream isn’t what it used to be. An expression the country so often preaches is “equal opportunity” and that is simply not true anymore.
Being only a young adult I witness this consistent truth in one of its highest prominences. I’m talking about public school, my high school, in particular, located in midwestern suburban America, the epitome of the nation. As students we are all receiving the same education, sitting in the same classrooms, and being taught by the same teachers. Yet we aren’t equal, being almost a senior I see the dismissal of students who just aren’t “smart.” It’s like we passed a threshold in our education that is past the point of no return. We are a student body divided by the smart and the dumb. Some rack up college acceptances, off to change the world, and have their choice of profession. Then there are others who are left behind, barely holding onto passing grades, and praying their future will go right. The problem is clear and the excuse to evade the subject is that students who fail are just lazy.
I consider myself an avid spectator of the high school world, I’m in it everyday, and there is no mistake that some people are lazy. But the answer to the gap of students in their education level is financial stability. The counter of “money doesn’t buy happiness or success” is a philosophy just made to make people feel better about their greed. And in an economy based off of greed and the accumulation of wealth no one can deny that money does buy SAT prep courses, science camps, and college tuition. Likewise, it is a lot easier for students to do homework when they don’t have to work after or before school to help their parents put food on the table. It is a lot easier to do well in school when you were able to buy the book you needed for english or have a fancy graphing calculator to help with logarithms.
Along with resources, the health of the school itself is a key component in education. Living about 30 minutes from Detroit I see the decline of Detroit Public Schools and hear horror stories of rodents living in the ceiling and no heat in the school. Overcrowding in public schools can also be detrimental for kids who need a little extra attention from a teacher. All these factors can ruin the learning experience for students. Every public school should be held to a higher standard. The nation as a whole needs to look at education as the key to opportunity. If a student has an unstable home environment it may not be immediately fixable, but as a service to the population, financing public schools needs to be priority. Until then equal opportunity is only a delusion.