What makes an individual an American is a question that has been asked time and again in many literatures. Some become Americans by birth, nationalization and other methods. However, there is still a question that has yet to be asked, would sharing the same vision and dream for America make one an American whether or not they live in America? In this research paper, the learner attends to this question by taking a keen look at the utopian vision of America through the eyes of Walt Whitman.
Walt Whitman was a former clerk who was serving at the United States Department of Interior. Walt Whitman is renowned and a force to reckon with as far as political literature is concerned. He was a zealous person and a fighter for equality and justice for all. Walt Whitman is noted to have even asserted that he would not accept anything for which there might be lesser treatment or portion offered to another person especially on discriminatory grounds. But then, what is this Utopian Vision for America? In the succeeding sections, there will be concentration on three major areas that Walt Whitman concentrated on.
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According to Griesinger, it is noted that Walt Whitman advocated strongly for democracy in totality. It is noted that at that time, there was an increase in dehumanizing conditions especially on Black Americans. For example, during a sports tournament, it is noted that at the end of that match, Walt Whitman noted that the American space has become more of a ritualized space where few people really enjoyed the happenings while most of the other spectators were just there to pass time and their presence was more of mandatory than voluntary.
It is also noted that those who wrote on American Literature rarely ventured into the world of politics as it was seen to be a very fragile and sensitive arena whereby the reactions to the literature was uncertain. Walt Whitman is credited as being the breakthrough that American literature / authors had been waiting for to get through with the political issues.
To Walt Whitman, democracy was supposed to be such that people elected in various state offices were not discriminated neither would there be preference of persons or tribe by forcefully evicting others from their land. This is to some extent contradictory because, while Walt Whitman advocated for democratic rights of Americans, he is also noted to have been a great advocate as far as American territorial expansion is concerned.
In an effort to bring attention to democracy and the political elites, Walt Whitman strongly advocated for the formation of a writers and authors who would pursue areas never ventured before. In the past there was concentration on geographic facts of the region while for which Walt Whitman advocated for writers who would concentrate on political front in their writing.
Freedom is to some extent a relative word since even though it is said that people have freedom, the freedom they experience is a controlled freedom. This might be beneficial to some extent because it would be chaotic if all people were to be entrusted with anything they wanted to have since they might result to violence in the name of freedom. It is usually claimed that America is among the freest nation in the world but this is a topic for discussion in another paper. According to Walt Whitman, during that time, Americans did not quite have the freedom to do as they pleased due to various restrictions that were there.
For example, it is noted that during the times of Walt Whitman, there was an increasing gap between the rich and the poor in the society. The gap was mainly brought about by the ever increasing discrimination that is mainly attributed to the fact that the slaves and specifically the black slaves were through of as being misfits in the social world. In an effort to bridge the gap between the state that the Black people were in and their white counterparts, the blacks resulted in working tirelessly to earn a living. The conditions were not as comfortable as they might have expected and the territory / areas in which they would work were also limited. This brought in some problems in the social world as the Blacks, who were fondly termed as the social misfits and slaves (runaway slaves) merged forces and this led to the eruption of the American Civil War. There was restriction as to how far a Black would go in the ladder of employment. According to the utopian vision of the United States republic, there ought to have been equal treatment and freedom to do things by all people living the American territory.
There may be nothing as distressing as being a relatively free person while all indicators show that one is still a slave. This was the state that the blacks had found themselves in. According to Walt Whitman, this was not supposed to be the case for an ideal America. Instead, it was supposed to be such that there was equitable distribution of services and opportunities. In an effort to make ends meet, the Blacks devoted more time to defend their territories, while others extended to occupy other regions as well despite the discriminations and battering from the natives. Due to this devotion to work, there was decrease in the amount of time that the Blacks devoted to family affairs and thus it was and has always been a problem in families.
To try to make a clear voice and cry for the oppressed in America, Walt Whitman humanized the Blacks in his work such that the reader would identify themselves with the Blacks, showing no discrimination in the writing. During this time, there was a delicate balance on which side Walt Whitman was on as far as racism is concerned and through his work it was evident that there was no discrimination in his mind but quest for equal treatment for all. Walt Whitman asserted that he would not accept anything that would not be offered in equal measure to another person. In his succeeding work dabbed ‘I celebrate myself’, it is clear that the center focus for the piece was the black and this is wrought in successive reference works by other writers.
Inspiration has come from different people who have stood strong and steadfast in the advocacy of equal treatment for all. The American Utopian vision is such that there ought to be equal treatment for all regardless of their racial orientation, their financial backgrounds and current standings and neither should there be discrimination based on region. Walt Whitman asserts that if anyone was capable of accepting what he termed as a runaway slave, then there would be no other barrier that such a person would have as far as accepting other people from other regions or races since the slaves were deemed to be the lowliest persons that ever existed in the region.
In conclusion, it is clear that the works of Walt Whitman have been a great source of inspiration to many who have often sought to have politically inclined writing. It is the works of Walt Whitman that brought in a new breed of writers into the political arena as they were able to boldly write matters pertaining to the political atmosphere. In s doing, it became possible for authors and other people to air their concerns especially as regards to discrimination. For example, it was clear and outright that there existed racial discrimination especially that which was directed to the blacks in America. It is known that the Blacks came mostly from Africa and they were mainly brought in as slaves. Walt Whitman notes that the ability of an individual to unconditionally accept a runaway slave was the key opener in accepting other people from different regions and races and he personally identified and humanized the blacks in his works like in his work on I celebrate myself. The key issues that form Walt Whitman’s utopian vision for American Republic include the struggle to extend, defend as well as deepen the democracy that already existed, the freedom as well as equality. It is good to note that although there was much advocacy, little has changed in the political arena.