A New Status-Quo

Last week the question was asked, “What does it mean to be an American today?”  So I’ve spent some time contemplating this simple yet complex question.  Some could answer that it means that we are the police of the world… attempting to set things “right” where we view things as going wrong.  It could be that we are the embodiment of freedom and democracy and try to spread that message around the world.  And that we are a nation of God and Christianity above all others.  In a casual way, we could be describing a new form of imperialism.  This isn’t like the imperialism of the 19th and 20th centuries where we lay claim to other parts of the world… but more like imperialism of ideas and beliefs… based more upon spreading our own principles and beliefs as being the only way to do things.

We, as Americans, sometimes seem to be a bit arrogant when it comes to the rest of the world.  We think we are better than everyone else because of what we stand for even though we have been proven time and time again that we are no better than any other one nation.  In some cases, we are even below par.  Our education system is an overall joke, yet most would think that our children are doing just fine and are keeping up with the rest of the world… despite the numbers showing to the contrary.  And we are getting further behind because we just keeping dumbing everything down so those at the bottom don’t feel as though they are dumb instead of making them start picking it up.  The more we dumb things down, the worse it’s going to be.  The tendency to see ourselves better than we really are is something that has become a trait of American society more and more as time has moved on… and it is beginning to give us a super-huge ego in its wake.

We are a nation of contrary beliefs, and they don’t always coexist nicely either.  Even in the political sphere, we have the inability to see commonalities and middle ground.  As we move through today’s times, compromise has become a dirty word and partisanship runs rampant.  Our policies by either major political party even reflect a major change.  In the mid and latter half of the 20th century, we worked to set the standard.  If we started talking about cleaning up the environment, then we would start making headway to do it.  We would start trying to fill the void in manufacturing the parts and new companies would start to spring up.  Today, rather than take the lead, we sit back and say we will if China and India start taking an active role in cleaning up their environments since they are the biggest polluters.  When exactly did we start playing the “we will only if they will” game?  And why doesn’t that apply for when going to war?  Then, it’s all hands on deck.  You are either with “us” or against “us.”

We now seem to have the “us” vs “them” mentality more these days.  We could say that this stems from the September 11 terrorist attacks, but if you look back through our own history, it goes back even farther.  We’ve always made someone within our own borders feel as though they weren’t good enough to be a part of the pack.  We’ve done it to the Native Americans, to the African Americans, to the Irish, to other immigrants, to Catholics, and several others.  And today is no different.  The mentality now spreads over the LGBT community and to the Muslim community.  All of these different communities have been on the outside looking in at some point.  And yet once inside, we aren’t afraid to turn our backs on someone else.  But don’t go thinking that our ethics are completely in the toilet.  Just because we set people apart and place them as second-class citizens doesn’t mean we are the worst offenders.  We aren’t stoning women to death for adultry.  And we aren’t systematically wiping out a portion of the population that disagrees with us politically or religiously.  We have managed to rise above the bottom of the heap (where an even greater number of nations are… most of which are third-world nations), but we still have some distance before we reach the summit of the mountain in which all our citizens of any and every group are able to be overwhelmed with pride in being an American.

We can talk up a good talk about spreading freedom and democracy, but overall, I think that we need to learn what those things mean to us first.  We hold other nations up to a higher standard of things and try telling them what they can and can’t do within their own borders, but yet we get an attitude when any of those nations try to criticize us.  All one has to do is look up to the start of the second Iraq war.  We kept trying to sell the lie about weapons of mass destruction and the French and German governments didnt’ quite fall for it and called us out.  And we all got so far bent out of shape about it that we started renaming food to take the term “French” out of it.  Boy was our face red when they were proven right.  Oops… our bad on that one.  We quickly will point out when someone makes a mistake but won’t own up when we make our own.   The standards we attempt to hold other nations to, we seem to fail at here at home.

But we are a nation full of diverse people that have somehow found a way to live in a mostly peaceful society.  Sure there is random violence here and there (and by latest statistics, more than in most civilized nations), but you don’t hear of mass genocide taking place.  We’ve got leaders that we technically can vote out of office if we actually grew a pair of balls to do so… and if we had some good choices to replace them with.  I think as we go farther into this 21st century, we need to really give it some thought as to what it means to be an American and how that spreads around the planet.  Is it ok to stand for freedom and democracy?  Is it ok to make sure that all people have a voice and that minority groups aren’t being wiped out?  Yes it is.  But we must always live up to the standards that we expect other nations to live by.

In an earlier blog entry (click here), I used the term cross-culturalism.  And yes, there is more of that now than at any time before in history.  But we must find a way to bring out the good and not all the negative stereotypes.  When it comes to our own nation, we need to live up to the motto of freedom… and that all people (even all the minorities) have all the same rights as everyone else… no exceptions.  We must start taking the reigns of how we are viewed.  The “go it alone” tactics or the “us vs. them” mentality won’t work anymore as it once did.  Today, a new form of humanity and society is emerging… one more connected than ever before.  And we must be willing to change along with it.  No more are oceans separating us from each other.  The past must start being left there as we march our way forward.

Whenever a natural disaster strikes anywhere in the world, it’s the people of the US who jump up and rush to help.  We are the first to open our wallets without even having to be asked.  This is the image and message that we need to send out into the world.  It is one of humanity and shows that we do acknowledge our common bond with each other.  We must take pride not just in our own nation and who we are, but in who all people are all over the world.  It’s not a one-size fits all scenario.  Even with our religious beliefs, there is variety and room to grow.  Yes, we might be mostly a Christian nation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t coexist with those that don’t celebrate our views.  There is much we can all learn from each other, if we were just willing to bypass all mental blockage that we put in place and actually conversed with each other and learned.  Being of an open mind should be something that we can claim as an American.  New ideas, new thoughts, new ways of doing things should never be the exception to the rule of normalcy.  They should be the norm.  We, as Americans, must reform ourselves to the higher standard.  We can achieve so much more… and we can do so much more.  We want to bring about a good meaning when the question is asked about what it means to be an American, then it’s time that we start improving our overall society and our mentality.  And then cross-culturalism can take that around the world.  Imperialism today might be different than it was a century ago.  We no longer need to conform to one way of thought.  It has come time to open our minds to the world around us and take off the blindfold.  It’s not just the American way anymore.  It now has to be our way.

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3 Responses to A New Status-Quo

  1. Thank you for a great post.

  2. That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!

  3. That is a super-peachy-keen post. Thanks for really blathering on like that! Seriously, I don’t think I could have spent more effort wishing for something heavy to fall on me to erase that nonsense from my mind!

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