Various Interpretations of the Dream and Experience

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Many stories have been heard that indicate that Americans wished for a world where people are treated equally, there is no segregation based on culture, refugees are given chances to meet their needs, and persons are free from injustice or slavery. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights places a stronger focus on Americans ensuring that everyone is served fairly by upholding human rights. However, there is a disconnect between the interactions that Americans had after settling in the United States and the contents of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, which articulated their hope for a better world that addresses the issues that they faced. This contrast is evident in the stories written and experiences of oppression of people such as farmers, immigrants, youths, servants, and the starving poor. This paper presents a comparison of the Dreams of the Americans upon attainment of independence and the actual experiences they underwent which showed that many aspects of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights were not achieved.
In the poem ‘The New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus, the poet explains her dream of America where people are liberated to protect their land and improve their welfare. The poem also states that there was hope that one day America would be enlightened and people will be protected from evil by holding the evil doers to account (Lazarus 2). The dreams in this poem are similar to those of the Universal Declaration of Human rights which emphasized that all Americans will be treated equally and no one will be subjected to suffering by race, ethnicity, or economic status. There is also a similarity between the views expressed by Emma Lazarus and the Declaration of Universal Human Rights since both emphasize on the liberty of Americans by ensuring they are not subjected to unfair trials. The views in the poem ‘The New Colossus’ are completely different from the experiences that Americans undergo on a regular basis because there is still lack of liberty and people such as immigrants, farmers, and minority races are more likely to be subjected to unfair judicial procedures irrespective of not being involved in criminal acts. The poem illustrates a Dream that immigrants into America who had been previously subjected to oppression and unequal access to opportunities will be provided with the ability to own land, acquire peaceful settlement environments, and empowered to participate in the nation’s economic development (Trindade 4). This is contrary to the actual experiences that the Americans underwent after independence in which immigrants were excluded from the opportunities at work, provided with the poor working environment, and not enabled to access better employment opportunities. After independence, the highest numbers of immigrants in the USA are restricted to working as laborers in agricultural fields and domestic workers. This resulted into the deterioration of their economic status and the inability to meet their personal needs or those of their families.
The poem also illustrates the hope that Emma Lazarus had that one day there will be a free America where women are empowered in the same manner as men. According to this poem, there is hope that a woman will be empowered to contribute to the protection of land and leading the society to a better American society. Similarly, in the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, there is an emphasis that people will be treated equally irrespective of a person’s gender (Roosevelt 3). However, the actual experiences that Americans underwent are that which marginalized women and considered them to be subordinate to men. The present American women have undergone instances of social exclusion and discrimination from particular roles in the society such as leadership or making political decisions.
The poem ‘Let America be America Again’ by Langston Hughes presents the author’s Dream of the kind of America that they should have despite that this is not the case of the experiences that the Americans undergo. While Hughes expresses his dreams of America he expected, he also expresses disappointment with the actual experiences that Americans undergo which are not according to their expectations. For instance, he states that he expected America, where people are provided with equal opportunities and no groups of individuals, are left to occupations such as farming, laborers, or not being given a chance to achieve a better lifestyle in the American society (Hughes et al. 5). However, the American environment after independence was that where some people were labeled as ‘Negros’ while others as ‘Slaves’ which meant that they could not get equal rights as other Americans. This shows that Americans had not achieved the Dream of promoting equality among its people. The inability of the Americans to achieve their dreams has been demonstrated by practices subjecting immigrants to mistreatments and not allowing them to build their homes or participate in agricultural activities in the United States. They have been prevented from creating their homes and most of them live in temporary structures. There is lack of equality with the existence of those in higher economic status and disenfranchised poor who struggle for survival in a land that was referred to as the ‘land of dreams.’
The speaker expresses his concern for the voiceless people such as immigrants, youths who had hopes of achieving their dreams upon becoming adults, farmers, and those who live in poverty and inaccessibility to basic human needs. According to Langston, America has a number of people with such characteristics many years after the enactment of the Declaration of the Universal Human Rights. Langston was hopeful that America would be a free land where people were not oppressed by leaders and people would be given equal opportunities of building America and making it a better place for everyone. The belief in the American Dream was factored that lead to the migration of people from Ireland, Poland, and England so that they could create free homelands with their efforts. However, he expresses his displeasure with the current state in America where the dreams of most people have been shot down and express his desire that America should be a country where the dreams of all people should flourish. This shows that there is lack of effective provision of equal opportunities to all Americans with only a few being beneficial in the areas of access to food, employment opportunities, and ownership of production resources. This leads to his conclusion that America has not been America of his dreams or the America that was expected when the Declaration of Universal Human Rights was enacted.
The story ‘Enrique’s Journey’ presents a case difference between Dream and Experience when Enrique’s mother, Lourdes, leaves Honduras in search of work in the United States, leaving him at home while he was five years old. His mother believes that there are more job opportunities in the United States compared with Honduras. However, when she reaches the US, she is unable to experience the better living environment as an immigrant. She believed that unlike Honduras, the US citizens upheld human rights and provided equal treatment to everybody. This made her believe that she could be provided with a better employment that could sustain her life and enable her to send some money back to her son in Honduras to complete third-grade studies (Nazario 5). Her dreams of better opportunities in America did not turn into reality since she was only employed as a factory worker whose income was not sufficient to sustain her family and send some to Honduras for her son’s upkeep. She also worked as a nanny and stayed in a cramped apartment. This results into Enrique’s concern that his mother is taking too long and he decides to follow her to the US. He also learns that immigrants are not freely welcome in the United States and he has to hide on top of train wagons to avoid being seen by the security at the borders. His colleagues who are caught are subjected to mistreatment and snatched their belongings. These experiences are contrary to the components of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the United States which required that all immigrants into the United States will be treated with respect by observing his or her right to live and work, access better work environment and to be free from oppression. The case analysis leads to the conclusion the despite the Dream of many immigrants into America; many people still face challenges which prevent them from achieving their life objectives and interests.
In conclusion, the Declaration of Universal Human rights has not been effected adequately in the United States since its enactment. Many US citizens still face different forms of suffering such as slavery, inability to construct their homes and improve the welfare of their families, and inability to own land or build their homes. Thus, it is recommended that there should be greater emphasis on adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights policies to create a suitable environment for all Americans. Works Cited
Hughes, Langston, and Antonio Frasconi. Let America Be America Again. Black Oak Books, 1990.
Hughes, Langston, Antonio Frasconi, and Antonio Frasconi. Let America Be America Again. George Braziller, 2004.
Lazarus, Emma. “The new colossus [1883].” The great thoughts (1985): 238.
Nazario, Sonia. Enrique’s journey. Random House Incorporated, 2007.
Roosevelt, Eleanor. Universal declaration of human rights. Applewood Books, 2001.
Trindade, Antônio Augusto Cançado. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Audiovisual Library of International Law (2008).

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