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Materialism In America Essay

1667 words - 7 pages

My first evening in New York City is one that I shall never forget. It was one of the most thrilling, memorable and horrifying experiences I have ever had. When I arrived in New York I was filled with enthusiasm and ready to explore the city that never sleeps. I conveyed this excitement to my Hotel Concierge, who advised me to visit Times Square. I began to walk from my hotel, which was located near Central Park to Times Square. As I drew closer, the sounds of the horse chariots were replaced with the buzzing sound of over 350,000 people who come to visit Times Square everyday (advertised in Time Square). I found myself emerged in the crowd of people and surrounded by larger-than-life television screens that display over 1.5 million advertisements daily (True Tales of Times Square). These advertisements were in bright colors and had famous actors and TV celebrities who promoted various cosmetic, clothing and food industry products.
This chaos was coupled with the voice of a man screaming “One time offer only, 50 percent off on all items” from inside the store. I instantly whipped out my wallet and bought a few clothing items, that would soon join an already overflowing closet. Other than the bright lights and sale offers, I also saw people sitting by the streets to have portraits of themselves painted, others were busy getting pictures clicked with actors dressed in Spiderman, Hulk and Statue of Liberty costumes.
After two hours in Times Square, I began my walk back to my hotel room during which a shocking realization hit me. I realized that while watching the thousands of visitors in Times Square, I missed noticing the homeless panhandlers that sit on the sidewalk asking for “a penny to spare”. I began to reflect on diversity in America and “The American Dream”. I also began to think about the desire for materialism in America, so clearly seen in the stores, sales and shopping being done in Times Square.
The “American Dream” originated during the Great Depression in America, which can be traced to October 1929, when the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange occurred. During the Depression, out of the 25,000 American banks, 11,000 banks were forced to close their doors (Causes Of The Great Depression). Additionally, almost 30 percent of the American workforce found themselves out of jobs, implying that over 12 to 15 million people had no source of income. With no income, people had to decrease their consumption of goods, including their basic necessities.
In such conditions, Americans needed a light at the end of the tunnel, they needed something to hope and dream for. To fulfill these needs, in 1931, American historian James Truslow Adams wrote his book “The Epic of America”. In his book, he gave birth to the term “The American Dream.” He defined “The American Dream” as the “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” (US...

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