Sacrificing Respect for a Dream

Allie McKee 5th Henson

A Dream and The Cost

A dream is a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. The American Dream is defined as an American ideal of a happy and successful life to which all may aspire, and that everyone in the United States has the chance to achieve success and prosperity. People are compelled to pursue dreams regardless of the outcome or cost. Many believe that pursuing dreams is what life is all about.


So what is the cost of pursuing a dream? It all depends on the person. A dream can be as unique as a person’s thumb print and contribute to the development of a person’s personality. They can even significantly define the quality of life. Sometimes there are costs associated with pursuing a dream that can change a person’s life or the people around them forever in a positive or negative way. Since a cost is an expenditure of something necessary for the attainment of a goal, people accept the fact that dreams can cost them something even something as precious as respect from others and their own.

The Competitive "Food Chain" of Life

Throughout the fast paced world and competitive lives, there are those who do whatever they can in order to help themselves pursue their dreams. Some aspire to get higher on the “food chain” and to have a prosperous life. Then, there are those who sit back and receive the consequences from the glory given to others. Those who put people down for their successes have the ability to not only lose respect from others, but also self-respect.

Losing Self Respect

Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem or admiration for a person or other entity. Self Respect represents the pride and confidence a person has. When a person loses self respect, they are disappointed in themselves for doing something unacceptable in their eyes. They are behaving without honor or dignity. In “Serving Florida” Barbara Ehrenreich loses her self-respect while trying to find a job. She states, “Thank you for your time, sir, but this is just an experiment, you know, not my actual life” showing the loss of self-respect in order to achieve her dream of finding a job in her research. In The Great Gatsby, one of Fitzgeralds main character, Gatsby, realized that what he had always dreamed of, was unrealistic and not what he wanted, when he achieved it. In his pursuit, he lost respect by achieving success from the underworld of organized crime and bootlegging. In an effort to maintain his self respect, Gatsby states “I don’t want you to get a wrong idea of me from all those stories you hear” (Fitzgerald 65).


Once one is able to become successful in one area it becomes an addiction. In the documentary, “Inside Job”, Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, states, “When you start thinking that you can create something out of nothing it’s very hard to resist”. What is the consequence of this idea? A loss of respect.

Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister of Singapore


Losing Respect from Others

No matter how hard someone is working to help their family or others, there will always be another person one step ahead of them pushing others down in order to become better than everyone else. Gordon Gekko claims in his speech, “Greed is Good”, that in his book “you either do it right or get eliminated”. This is displayed in many of the cases found throughout the world today in our capitalistic environment. The competitive nature can either help someone or hurt them. The respect is either gained or lost in any case.


A loss of respect usually comes from those who have been negatively affected by the change made by the one who is craving success. Respect is lost several times throughout The Great Gatsby in order for a dream to be achieved by the characters. For example, Nick losses respect for Daisy because she gives up her love for Gatsby for riches and a prosperous life. Nick says, “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich house, full life, leaving Gatsby--nothing” (Fitzgerald 149).


In 2008, the United States was in the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Americans started losing respect in the leadership of our nation and the entire financial and banking industry because millions lost their homes, jobs, and savings. Andrew Sheng, Chief Advisor, states in “Inside Job” that, “They were having massive private gain at public loss”. This quote is portrayed in this image because the financial industry had been deregulated and was selling bad deals to investors which allowed them to make millions while others lost everything. The situation became so bad that the United States government had to step in and bail out several major companies so the economic structure would not collapse.


In the documentary “Inside Job” Andrew Sheng, Chief Advisor China Banking Regulatory Commission stated, “…a real engineer builds bridges and a financial engineer builds dreams and when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”


The whole world was watching the United States to see how it would recover and what consequences would be placed on the executive of the companies that almost bankrupted the country. Americans were satisfied when President Obama explained that, “‘The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper’”. This quote from the article, “Capitalism Saved the Miners” exploits the idea of survival of the fittest. Those who are considered “fit” are the ones who lose the most respect from the “unfit” and gain respect from the “fittest” in the game for their determination to rise up in their position.


In the article, “Serving in Florida” a loss of respect for our nation is displayed when Barbara Ehrenreich states that many of the places looking for employment were, “mostly interested in whether I am a legal resident of the United States and have committed any felonies”. The loss of interest in how capable or educated someone is for a job shows the loss of respect in our nation and is frightening to customers.


At the end of the road, more often than not, people regret what they didn’t do, not what they did. However, when it comes to losing respect, it is the regret of what was done.

Works Cited

"American Rhetoric: Movie Speech: Wall Street - Gordon Gekko Addresses Teldar Shareholders - Greed Is Good." American Rhetoric: Movie Speech: Wall Street - Gordon Gekko Addresses Teldar Shareholders - Greed Is Good. American Rhetoric: Movie Speeches, n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2014.


Ehrenreich, Barbara. "Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel and Dimed: Serving in Florida."Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel and Dimed: Serving in Florida. Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel and Dimed, n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2014.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print.


Henniger, Daniel. "Capitalism Saved the Miners." The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 6 Jan. 2014.


Inside Job. Prod. Audrey Marrs. Perf. Matt Damon. Charles Ferguson, 2010.