The United States of America occupies a unique yet powerful position in the global politics, social, economic, military and other metrics for measuring strengths of geopolitical boundaries. This is primarily due to the fundamental ideals which form important pillars of the American society. These ideals were laid down as markers by the founding fathers at independence and which successive governments and social and political leaders have sought to propagate. There has been an unending debate on the most significant ways of defining America. As some claim that reality is the most effective measure of defining America, others claim otherwise. The two approaches come to the fore when defining the American dream.
Since the founding of the United States, the American dream has been touted as the principal pillars and national ethos that guides the American citizens and residents of the country. In its broadest meaning, it is a combination of ideas where freedom not only includes the opportunity for success and prosperity but an upward social mobility for families and their children in a society with few barriers. These ethos and principals were aptly captured by James Adams who defined the American dream as better, richer and fuller life for every American citizen. He adds that American citizens should be given opportunity according to their ability and achievements regardless of their circumstances of birth and social class. The American dream is embedded in the Declaration of Independence that states that all people are created equal with the right toliberty, life and the pursuit of happiness (Mailer 36).
The American dream provides the guidelines for defining America. The American dream provides characteristics and markers of what Americans ought to achieve for better and quality life. Therefore, it would be logical to conclude that what is important in defining America is the ideal vision (Mailer 41). This is because dreams and visions propagate actions in desired direction thereby molding individual characteristics. However, the two can be reconciled to work as one.
Reality may be far from vision, but it provides the stepping stones to achieving the desired visions. The reality is the actual state of things. It is void of imagination and is based on the facts. In its broadest sense, the reality is an inclusion of everything that is and has been, irrespective of whether it is observable or not (Mailer 43). On the other hand, vision may be a goal, imagination or perception of something. When reconciling reality and vision in definition of America, the reality part of it shall have to describe the situation as is while the vision segment of it describes what elements are desired to change and in what ways, in an effort to live up to the American dream. The ideal visions have by great extent helped to improve the American reality. Ever since Thomas Jefferson came up with a declaration of independence of the American dream, various implementations have been changed in the constitution regarding equality, right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realities begin with visions that mature with time to become actual realities (Mailer 44). Ultimately, the idealistic America provides the guiding light for the achievement of the realistic America. It lays down the benchmark for measuring the success of the real America.
Grapes of Wrath and Harold and Kumar provide insights to the American dream. In the Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck highlights the struggles of migrant workers during the great depression through the experiences of the Joad family. The family and the story are microcosms of the daily struggles of many migrants who come to American shores in their quest to live the American dream. The migrants are faced with many hardships than they originally expect which symbolizes the reality of the difficulties in achieving the American dream. They had to contend with the reality of poor working conditions in their quest for the ideal dream: the American dream. The author provides a panoramic vision of what the migrants went through in their everyday life to access improved living standards. Poor living conditions, unemployment and low quality of life due to poverty are realities even in today’s American society. On the other hand, the shift from agricultural occupation to urban factories and white-collar jobs provided employment opportunities for migrants. The worst part of the industrial jobs is the long working hours and the low wages. it was also found out that child labor was in practice with complete control over them (Dewey, Grapes of Wrath).
The film, Harold and Kumar, depicts the American dream as a country with all the rights and freedom. Through its main actors Harold and Kumar, the plot of the filmcan conveys the message that America would be a happier country with the new implementation of freedom rights. In the film sequel titled Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold and Kumarare forcefully taken to jail without appeal where they are mistreated. The film refers to various events such as the 9/11 bombing and the war on terror and how the terrorist attack is related to Arabs (Bradbury, Harold & Kumar).
The two films criticize the government and some of its secret operations that do not abide by civilian rights to freedom. They two films provide insight into the American dream, the actual reality, and the American vision. The actual reality may not be as the American vision but it provides a platform for future improvements with regards to freedom and equality as envisioned in the Declaration of Independence (McShane, The American Vision). The major difference in the two films is that Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is more of comedy than The Grapes of Wrath. The films, especially Harold and Kumar, highlights how reality can denigrate the very assertions of the Declaration of Independence which is a symbol of the ideal America.
The American dream has played a key role in the positive real-world achievements that have had an impact on society. Our ancestors fought for the freedoms enjoyed by the present generation. They sacrificed their freedoms bravely for these opportunities. Americans do not just enjoy the opportunities but by all nationalities that come to America with hopes of living the American dream (Boyer, A History of the American People). The resulting economic boom asa result of industrial revolution heralded a new chapter in the country. It became a superpower globally with story political, economic, social and military institutions. Technological innovations, readily available resources, and low costs of transportation led to industrialization and urbanization that encouraged the natural influx of immigration. The increase in immigration encouraged further industrialization in the country that nourished the American economy making it a world super power. The American reality was therefore attained through visions thought in the past centuries that have become real after years of hardworking and dedication (Boyer, A History of the American People).
Mailer, Norman. An American Dream. New York: Dial, 2011. 36-44. Print.
McShane, Joseph. “Home – The American Vision.” American Vision. 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.
Boyer, Paul S. “Enduring Vision.” A History of the American People. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 2012. 56-60. Print.
Bradbury, Earl. “A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS.” Harold &Kumar. Warner Bros, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 6 Aug. 2015
Dewey, Mary. “‘Grapes of Wrath’, But Its Depictions Of Poverty Are …” Grapes of Wrath. Npr, 18 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Aug. 2015.