Ask the founding fathers what they envisioned the definition of equality to be and they would tell you it means that each person, regardless of race or gender, is entitled to certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ask today's everyday American and his answer is not as straight forward.
It doesn't take a history buff to know that the American Dream is drastically changing. Years ago, Fitzgerald emphasized this very point in his renowned book, The Great Gatsby. Change has never been, nor will it ever be, a bad thing. That is as long as it is triggered by the same unselfish desires portrayed by the founding fathers. I am afraid that might not always be the case today.
The founding fathers established this country with the belief in the value of hard work. They believed that all dreams are achievable if only one devotes his entire life to it and works his way towards his goal. The emphasis was on the individual—what the individual could do for himself. The very cornerstones of America were based on the key principle that everyone can put the past behind them and work to create a new future. The future belonged to those who dreamed.
Today's America is not as honorable. Equality no longer means that everyone is able to mold their own destiny, but rather that the outcome must be exactly the same as well. Nobody can be slighted and nobody can be ahead. An industrious work ethic is no longer one of the key components. Citizens all over the nation are being told that this is the new American Dream and that the government is the one responsible for fulfilling this. Equality means that everyone has health care, everyone has a home, everyone can immigrate to the U.S., everyone can receive government support.
But where does that leave the individual? Where does this compel the individual to dream and work and succeed? The problem is that this new belief leaves no wiggle room. And when there is no wiggle room, the nation as a whole suffers.
I admit that in a perfect world, yes, everyone would be at the same place financially. But notice I said perfect world. This is not a perfect world nor will it ever be. Trying to make it one stunts the growth of hardworking Americans, which in return tarnishes the beauty of the American Dream. The American Dream which tells you that if you fail the first time, work harder the next. By no means is it always going to be pretty. The beginning rarely is. But the American Dream does offer the opportunity for everyone to make a beautiful ending.
America is now in a position where this opportunity is slowly being taken away—the opportunity to make life what you want it to be and work your way up the social ladder. But as I said before, America allows its citizens to create a new tomorrow. To challenge current politicians and change the economical tides. The individual has the power. It is time we remind the world of that.
Published in The Enlightened Life: A community blog