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Another way of thinking about these basic values involves rights and responsibilities.
Self-reliance means that Americans believe they should take care of themselves, solve their own problems, and “stand on their own two feet.” They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as standing alone, and they are apt to4 imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands.
This strong belief in self-reliance continues today as a traditional American value.
And how did a nation of such diversity produce a recognizable national identity? In time, their experiences led to the development of the core American cultural values that still shape America today.
John Zogby, an American pollster who surveys public opinion, says that what holds the United States together today is that “we all share a common set of values that make us American. This system of values consists of three pairs of benefits—individual freedom, equality of opportunity and material wealth (or the American Dream)—and the price people paid to have these benefits—self-reliance, competition, and hard work: These three pairs of values have determined the unique culture of the United States and its people.
Although receiving financial support from charity, family, or the government is possible, it is usually expected to be for a short time, and it is generally not admired.
Eventually, most Americans would say, people have a responsibility for taking care of themselves.
The Declaration of Independence (1776) One of the most intriguing questions about the United States is what makes people “American”? Historically, the United States has been viewed as “the land of opportunity,” a place where immigrants could have individual freedom, an equal chance for success, and the ability to have a better standard of living.
With immigrants arriving from all over the world with vastly different cultural traditions, values, and customs, what holds the country together? In order to have these benefits, however, they had to take care of themselves, compete with others, and work hard to fashion a new life.
The second is for Equality of Opportunity, and the price for that is Competition.
If everyone has an equal for success, then we have to compete.