Professor de Roulet
America’s Obstacles to Success
Success can be a rather abstract term and it can mean very different things to different people. The dictionary’s definition of “success” is the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. It is something that everybody wants. For some, “success” means having a lot of money, fame and power, but for some, success does not necessarily means having a lot of monetary things. When I ponder at what society tries to influence my view on success, I see constant visions of having finer things in life, looking fit and beautiful, marrying a rich husband, raising perfect children, attending high society events, and owning a respectable business. These ideal images of success do play a part in its attempt to shape what Devore would call “the social me”. On the other hand, my “interior I”, is shaped by other influences in my life, like my parents, teachers and pastors. They always taught me that honesty, good education, hard work, thrift, perseverance, love and faith will eventually lead me to success and happiness. Therefore, my “success” would be to become a registered nurse and managing my own medi-spa clinic in Laguna Beach, in the near future. If I am successful in my career then it would means having great income, high status, respect, and self confident. Although achieving my career goal is nice, but what is more important to have a healthy, happy family and good friends. A wonderful husband, I can trust and rely on; hard working and respectful children, whom I can be proud of; good parents, siblings and friends that I can count on when I need them. They are most important to me, because they are the people that are around to support and to inspire me to go further and come closer to what I define “success” is. Interestingly, the pressures my “social me” encounters are summarized neatly in Gregory Mantsios’ short essay, "Class in America”. He tends to define “success” as belonging to the upper class, and the lower you are on the class’ ladder, the less chance you will have of “success”. In his article, he describes the different classes’ obstacle to success, in our society. Furthermore, he makes his point about the increasing gap in our society is due to the realities of our economic spectrum, American life-styles, our class and educational attainment, our spheres of power and oppression. At the same time, he refutes the four common beliefs in our society: The USA is classless; we are a middle class nation; we’re all getting richer; and everyone has an equal chance to succeed. He justifies that if you are born into the life of wealth, you will have a better chance at succeeding in life such as school, career, and marriage. On the flip side, if you are born into a less fortunate family, the chance of becoming successful greatly decreases. Moreover, Mantsios questions the notion of people having equal chance at becoming successful as long as they work hard. “The reality is, even ignoring the extreme poles of the economic spectrum; we find enormous class differences in the life styles among the haves, the have-nots, and the have-littles. (p.292)” Success is attained by these separate classes, through constant struggle to keep it or to achieve it and the advantage is likely going to be the class above the other, who’s going to win in this social and economic tug of war. Furthermore, Mantsios’ view on capitalism, racism, and sexism are the other significant factors that impede the success of many Americans. “Even though, people rarely or never talk about the existence of social classes in our society, but such distinct classes do exist. We don’t speak about class privileges, or class oppression, or the class nature of society (p.280).” Instead what we do is focus on the middle class to avoid any suggestion of conflict or injustice of class differences. Our country echoes the notions that rich...
Cited: Mantsios, Gregory. “Class in America-2009”. Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 9th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.
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