U.S. Values and Beliefs: What it Means to be American Today

Jeanette Falotico and

Ask anyone and you’ll get a different answer; what values and beliefs are dominant in the United States today? According to Michael Turner, a 29-year-old psychology major from Carlstadt, “values that demonstrate the U.S. culture are individualism, diversity and unity. These values mean we stand together in unity to protect the freedoms of diversity and individualism.”
“Equality is important to me because it means that all individuals are given equal consideration despite their gender, age, and ethnicity.” said Heather O’Donnell, 20-year-old public health major from Little Silver.
“Freedom is the blatant belief that one can have the ability and access to many rights sometimes to the point of destruction,” said Amira Ibrahim, a 19-year-old education major from Long Branch.
Additionally, materialism and a sense of competition also creep into the lexicon of US beliefs and values. According to Ibrahim, “materialism highlights the desire for new, expensive things.”
O’Donnell adds that “materialism is prevalent because individuals value material goods over relationships. Competition goes hand in hand with materialism in a fast-paced, industrialized society because companies are working to create the most efficient goods and services.”
Racism, sexism and ageism, former United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offers -ism commentary via Twitter, “Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is.”
Laura Jakes at The New York Times mused, “Mr. Pompeo’s post was particularly notable in that it came the day before Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as the first woman of color to hold the office of vice president.”
Is it possible for beliefs and values like pride, opportunity, and freedom to influence our lives both positively and negatively? After all, one person’s sense of pride is another’s sense of arrogance. We live in the land of opportunity, yet not everyone has a path to success.
And Freedom? Even the whitest and wealthiest men in America admit they struggle with some lack of freedom. Conversely, our feelings of pride in being an American gives us courage. The spirit of opportunity reinforces the knowledge that we can do anything, and the sense of freedom provides a blank canvas onto which we can conceive our greatest adventures.
In an opinion article for The New York Times, President Joe Biden said, “in over 45 years of working in global affairs, I’ve observed a simple truth: America’s ability to lead the world depends not just on the example of our power, but on the power of our example.”
Irrespective of your political affiliation, in support of President Biden’s call to action to lead by example, individualism, diversity, unity, freedom and equality, Brookdale students Michael Turner, Heather O’Donnell, and Amira Ibrahim model what it means to be American today.