A friend and I were just talking about the idea of The American Dream over dinner tonight. Unsurprisingly, its original incarnation is rather far afield from the meaning attached to it today:
The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
- From the book The Epic of America, wherein James Truslow Adams coined the term "The American Dream."
(Quote via fakeisthenewreal's del.icio.us)