America is the land of opportunities. It is a land of hope, because the early settlers were the Europeans who left their countries in search of democracy, freedom and equality. In the 20th century, America was looked upon by the world as the superpower and dream continent where people’s visions came true. America became the melting pot of world and all the cultures of the world met here. There was a thirst for fame, power and money. This opened a door of commercialization of the society. Many people became greedy and inhuman in their pursuit of fame and money.
A famous essayist, Bacon is of the view, “Certainly fame is like a river that beareth up things light and swoln, and drowns things weighty and solid.” (Of Praise 133) Instead of a healthy competition and right path towards success, many were blinded by the materialistic aspect of life. American society also saw mushrooming of commercilisation and competition among the section of people, who were ready to sacrifice anything and everything for power and fame. This destroyed their family life and career.
One of the most dominant beliefs of American society goes by the name of “the great American dream”. This concept is based on the doctrine of self-help, which assumes that a person having self-confidence and self-initiation can rise from a lower to a higher position. This doctrine is mostly highlighted by referring to famous personalities like Benjamin Franklin and John Garfield, who became role models for the posterity.
Though many benefited by aiming high goals in their lives, a section of people attached false notion to the American dream. They became fervent believers of the romantic concept that anyone with personal attractiveness, charm and contacts could become a millionaire in a short time. A classic example of this type of people can be seen in the dramatists of this period. These dramatists portrayed such people in their works. Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman” portrays one such character. Willy Loman, a character from this play thinks he will become rich because of his contacts, attractiveness and personal charms. Many condemned this wrong connotation of American dream and infact some writers like Fuller has compared this character namely Willy Loman to the contemporary Americans. Fuller says “Truly Willy does represent any man whose illusions have made him incapable of dealing realistically with the problems of everyday life…. In pursuit of this delusion he ruins no only his private life but his career as well.”
Many because of their illusions and wrong notions have failed miserably in their real lives. Some unable to cope up with their everyday problems committed suicide or had nervous breakdowns. Instead of hard work, sincerity, dedication towards the right goal, and a heart to compromise their dreams for a peaceful happy life, some people opted for money, fame and power. This led to their destruction. The Bible rightly says “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils…” (I Timothy 6:10)
People sacrifice their moral values and run after money. And like Miller’s Loman, they are betrayed by the rat-race materialistic society. Many still are deceived by American myth of getting rich to the point of absurdity. The story of success gives rise to the hope in the people that America is a great country and anybody can get rich in a short period. Though there is some truth in it, many people are deceived that without any effort on their part, they could succeed. The Bible rightly says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider her ways, and be wise.” (Proverb 6:6)
One should not be idle and blame the nation or a concept like “the American dream”, for his failures. He should be hardworking, sincere and try to utlilise most of his chances. One cannot succeed in a single day. Bacon, a renowned writer confirms it by saying, “All rising to the great place is by a winding stair.” (Of Great Place 28).
A person should be optimistic and always work towards realisation of his vision in life. Whatever may be his position in the society, he should be proud of himself. He must not lose hope because of the failures he face in his path. Failures strengthen a man and equip him to experience any hurdles in his life. He should be happy that he too could contribute his share in making his nation a better place to live.
To conclude with Whitman’s verse, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.”(Song of Myself 305), a man whether American, Asian or African, irrespective of his position and financial status, should be happy to live a peaceful life in a world, which respects moral values. Dreaming is not idealistic but it should help a man in a holistic way to achieve better values in his life.
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