An Open Letter To Struggling Americans
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Politics and Activism

An Open Letter To Struggling Americans

The truth about the 'American Dream'

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An Open Letter To Struggling Americans
Photo taken by me

When I think about our country, there are a few statements that inevitably come to mind: America the beautiful, land of the free, liberty and justice for all - these are just a few of the quotes that our country is based upon. America likes to come across as very open-minded and accepting. In America, you’re free. All worries are gone. You’re in the “land of opportunity”. The American Dream has been thrust into your lap and you immediately, seamlessly assimilate into American culture, right? On the outside, yes, this is what America has been made to look like – but it’s time we take a deeper look underneath the coats of patriotism and the American Dream that have been painted over our society.

A quote I read the other day changed my outlook on America, and helped me see another side of our culture. I was reading The Virgin Suicides for my English class and at a later point in the novel, one of the characters – an older Russian woman - wonders aloud: ‘why does America “feel the need to pretend to be happy all the time”’? This quote really stuck out to me at first. It perplexed me. I kept reading to find that this character had been through many hardships in her life, and was ultimately making an important point about our culture that many Americans often miss. The concepts of nationalism and patriotism that are so strictly imbedded within American culture suddenly began to seem like a Band-Aid over the wound of society. This country was created on the basis of great ideas and dreams developed long ago – but we still struggle today with making these dreams a reality. To this day, we are still fighting for equal rights, fighting to help others become a part of this country and fighting to find out what the American Dream truly is.

Since these battles continue to be fought and the American Dream is still not a reality for many, I feel that our society is quick to ignore where we are going wrong. We are excelling in many areas - whether it is our strong, innovative government, or within the vast field of technology; however, this in turn makes it easier to suppress the areas where we are lacking. It has come to my attention that it is a part of our culture to want to cover things up. A large area where I feel this is prevalent is through the objectifying and sexualizing of women. This issue is relevant to The Virgin Suicides and I find it interesting how this huge problem is over-looked and suppressed within the novel; much like how it is dealt with in society. So many women find themselves in compromising, unhealthy, or even just unfair, situations and fail to recognize the reality – and danger - of what they are dealing with. Society prompts them to put on a happy face and ignore the problem at hand.

I find it interesting to compare our culture to others. In Sweden, for example, women and men are virtually equal. Europeans tend to be way more open about and expressive of their emotions. This can also be seen through the media in TV shows, movies, press, etc. It is rare that you will find an American movie with a tragic, or truly realistic ending. Stories are often rewritten, or created to have happy endings. It is almost as if there is an embarrassment looming over the emotions of America. Why do we feel the need to put on this façade of happiness? It is time for America to accept that the American Dream, and idea of “freedom for all” have not come easily to everyone. People should not feel ashamed of their struggles to assimilate into American culture or to fight for their rights. These are national issues that are very real. I find it imperative that we work together to make more changes on behalf of these issues rather than shaming them into ultimately being covered up, or overlooked.

Maybe it’s not that the American Dream and concept of freedom do not exist – but more so that it takes a lot of hardship and willpower to get to where one wants to be. The melting pot is still melting and equal rights for all have yet to become a reality; People every day are fighting to make America their home. It’s time we stop putting a Band-Aid over the issues surrounding our society.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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