When we, Americans, think of America, we think of its splendor. As John F. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." America and Americans are defined by strength. Our cars are big and have huge amounts of horse power, our skyscrapers tower over the landscape, and our citizens hold the world record for almost all sprints. Most of our ancestors came to this land and worked, and through their labor they were given a slice of the American Dream. With their strength they achieved their goals.
Like a waterfall, our country is both beautiful and dangerously strong. From a distance it looks like a magnificent place, but once you are part of the system it is not so easy. The American Illusion, aka the American Dream, is what foreigners and natives alike see on TV and are told by their fellow man. I was talking to an exchange student just this year, 2008, and he told me that he was disappointed with the US because it was nothing like the movies he had seen. I laughed at the time because he was referring to the constant parties that he had seen but looking back on the experience I see that this event is also applicable to the American Dream. The strength of the water, or society, sometimes is so strong that it swipes individuals off of their feet and crushes them (The Grapes of Wrath), and for others it takes them to a place full of wealth (The Great Gatsby). But no matter how strong we are we are still reliant on something, which makes us weak.
Even though the man in Sixteen Tons hauled sixteen tons of coal from the mine in one day he was still indebted to the company store, showing that there is more to strength than just brute strength. Brute strength can only get you so far, but if that strength was intelligently applied then you can do anything. I believe the automobile industry reflects this trend because US companies are slashing their production of powerful, fuel guzzling cars. And they are producing smaller more efficient cars. The companies are moving from brute strength to an economic strength (by this I mean where the most buyers are present, thereby gaining the most profit). America is defined by strength, but sometimes we forget what strength is.

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