By: Janet Shamilian
The early 1990’s marked the fall of the Soviet Union, creating a free and independent Armenia. Almost inevitably, this new liberation allowed for influxes of immigration to the United States. What is it about this 236-year-old country that attracted these immigrants? You may argue that George H. W. Bush was responsible for signing the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased the number of legal immigrants and generated a visa rewarding lottery program. However, this fascination with the United States surpasses legislation and is largely because America is widely renowned as the “land of opportunity.”
America is the welcoming country that promotes the national ethos of the American Dream, accepting all individuals regardless of demographics. It advances the vast array of opportunities presented to its people. This freedom in America allows for success, accomplishments, and prosperity through hard work. However, along the maturation of this country, the people have stopped trusting these defining ideals. Adopting a pessimistic outlook that is largely affiliated with failures and hardships, the people have stopped believing. The American Dream is misunderstood. What happened along the way? This problem is prevalent in our culture because we assume that opportunities will land in our hands upon entrance to the United States. Written in our Declaration of Independence, all men are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” PURSUIT. Even embedded in one of our country’s founding documents, the American Dream is not only about the rewards, but also about the process. We cannot just expect opportunities to be presented to us. We must aim and work towards reaching the unthinkable goals – the big and even bigger.
Why have we settled for contentment? Why have we stopped advancing towards the American Dream? This settlement is accredited to the fear of failure that often hinders the vision. The mere thought of failing is so powerful that it may even completely exterminate our goal. This reluctance to stepping outside our comfort zone leads to the deprivation of our potential growth and nourishment. It dwindles the search of reaching our full potential. The fear incapacitates and tampers with our mind, until we completely lose sight of the objective. Failure is inevitable; assuming that hard work prevents failure entirely is incontrovertibly foolish. However, hard work defines the process. How we respond to failure is a measure of our character and the true determinant of success. We should not allow failure to defeat us. It will in fact defeat us if we do not try again. We should not allow failure to limit our opportunities, but rather embrace the wisdom that comes with failing. Upon trying again, this wisdom will produce a more strategic and experienced beginning.
Successful people are not tainted nor dissuaded by discomfort, failure, or hardship. Many Armenian Americans (either immigrants themselves or children of immigrants) have truly defined the American Dream. Some of these legacies include Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, a federal judge who holds the title of being the first Armenian immigrant judge in the United States. The 35th Governor of the fine state of California, George Deukmejian, who was born to Armenian immigrant parents who escaped the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900’s. During his tenure, Governor Duekmejian enforced economic policies that created over 2.8 million jobs, prioritized education in California, and created a billion dollar surplus. Flourishing both the Armenian and American cultures, famous painter Arshile Gorky advanced Abstract Expressionism. He arrived to the United States in 1920, pursuing his dreams and eventually had his work displayed in major American museums including the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and finally the Museum of Modern Art. Prestigious Ben Bagdikian was born in Turkey and was naturalized as a citizen in the United States in 1926. He later went on to become the national editor of the Washington Post. Serj Tankian, lead singer of the band System of a Down was born in Beirut, Lebanon and immigrated to the United States when he was seven years old. Tankian has brought recognition to the Armenian Cause with his music and political involvement. The above mentioned Armenian Americans are only some of the very many influential people in our culture. Following the lead of all successful Armenian Americans, it is time to continue what we started when coming here…it is time to continue chasing the American Dream.
This one is for all the people who BELIEVE and for those whom I am trying to instill BELIEF within.