The world needs heroes—an ideal type. Throughout history, each culture including early American society had an archetype to aspire to. In our postmodern cultural revolution, we have lost that ideal. We have nothing to strive for. Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and the Norse identified gods, demigods, and warriors as the ideal as demonstrated in both storytelling and art. Think of the strength, cunning, and bravery of Odysseus or Gilgamesh. The medieval world looked to religious leaders as their ideal, and the enlightenment shift moved toward men of science, like Einstein, Newton, and Edison. America was founded on the ideal type of the self-reliant, self-made man, and that idealistic myth carried forth until recent decades.
The postmodern turn has seen a fragmentation of cultural ideals in America. In the name of diversity and inclusion, we have moved away from a specific archetype for fear of offending the perpetually offended. Consider what an ideal American would be like from a simple demographic perspective. If you were a renowned sculptor and the government hired you to design the ideal American, would it be a man? If so, then you run the risk of offending women and transgender. Would it be a woman? The reverse problem occurs. What race would an ideal be? White? Black? Hispanic? Asian? How about sexuality? Would our ideal be straight, gay, lesbian, or questioning? How would you even depict something like that in an image without being stereotypical or offensive? I doubt that it is possible. What would our ideal be like on a personal level? Would s/he be a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Conservative, Progressive, Liberal, Classic Liberal, socially conservative but economically liberal, or something else entirely? Is the ideal American a Christian, and if so, which denomination? Catholic? Seventh Day Adventist? Branch Davidian? Baptist? If not Christian, then a Sunni or Shiite Muslim? Atheist? Agnostic? Un-affiliated, but spiritual?
It seems to me that in such a schizophrenic society as ours, it is impossible to consider an ideal. Therefore, American society is being pulled apart at the seams unlike anything we have ever seen before. There is more dividing us than bringing us together, and we are constantly looking for more reasons to be unlike our neighbor. This project is my attempt to look into this concept on a deeper level than pure speculation. I am not looking for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but I am approaching this from an academic perspective. Hopefully, with your support and prayers, I will either uncover the American ideal or discover that such an idea is impossible without immense cultural change.