Welcome to America. We gave you the transistor radio, the automobile, the musical Rent, and all the paranoia you can stomach. And Taco Bell, which is also hard to stomach.
America is the land of opportunity. The land envisioned by our forefathers where men and women would live free to think and worship as they pleased. For the most part, we do. We have been given the incredible gifts of freedom and opportunity. Yet, as with any gift humanity receives, we abuse them.
People love to debate. People love to belittle others. People love sounding intelligent. So naturally, arguing with strangers on the Internet makes the most sense for many people.
Religion. The Middle East. Politics. Dancing with the Stars. You name it, people are arguing about it. What makes us want to argue? What makes us feel educated enough to present statements of opinion like they are scientific facts?
I’d answer simply: Pride. But we mustn’t forget stupidity, which is also a key factor.
Americans are only able to see the rest of the world and even experience the rest of the world in short bursts. We go to college. We go on mission trips. We watch a documentary on Discovery Channel. We gather and gather information, but we gather it as Americans. We can’t help it; it’s who we are.
I’m not saying people aren’t educated or that experiencing a culture first hand is worthless. It’s just that no matter what you see or where you go, you always will experience the rest of the world as an American. And as such, we view everything through an American filter.
I think it is nearly impossible to make general statements about the condition of the world as it relates to America. You can’t use European countries’ methods as evidence that the same practices will work identically in the states. Europe has countries that are the size of Indiana. Sure, we can learn from what they may be experiencing, but it can’t be solid evidence as to how it would play out here. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
This applies to religion, too. There are American Christians and there are Chinese Christians. There are Muslims who attend Ohio State studying anthropology, and there are Muslims in Pakistan. While the sacred texts these groups study are the same, the cultures are not.
We see everything through a filter. And that filter even changes over time in regards to America and our way of life. Immigration today is not the immigration of the early 1900s. Times change. Cultures change. We must acknowledge that changes and differences exist and will continue to.
My sister and I didn’t grow up with any pets. We just weren’t used to animals and didn’t care to live with them or without them. My mom got a puppy a few years ago and became a super dog person. My sister and I still were not.
When she went down to visit my mom, she told me, “It was ridiculous. Mom let the dog jump all over the furniture. I couldn’t take it.” Then my sister got herself a puppy. I went over to her house to see the new puppy and she assured me that her dog would not be jumping on the furniture.
I came back two weeks later and there were blankets all over the couch. She looked at me and said, “Yeah, I know… I gave up. I’m as bad as Mom.”
The same thing happens all the time with people who haven’t had kids yet. You start with one very clear opinion that you are sure of, then you have kids and you go back on everything you said because you didn’t really know what you were talking about.
Those strong opinions are viewed through personal filters. It’s the same with world issues. It’s not that we don’t have hard facts, or that we didn’t do a lot of homework. We just instinctively see everything through our American filter.
What are civil rights to us may be a high privilege to those in other countries. What are bare necessities to us may be luxuries to third world nations. You can rattle off statistics, but you can’t truly experience and understand a statistic that you are not a part of.
Do we really know what is best for the rest of the world? Does the world need more America in their lives?