I recently asked if any of my friends wanted me to write about anything. One person asked me to write about what being an American means to me. It's funny, because I doubt she considers herself an American. She was born in Canada. I guess the US hijacking the word American is accepted worldwide.
The question makes me think of the phrase "proud to be an American." I've always rejected that idea. George Carlin did a bit about the idea. I'm sure I can't say it better than he did. I suppose we are proud of things we aren't really responsible for. We should be proud of doing things it would be easy not to do. If you smoke, you should quit, and then be proud of yourself. You should be proud when you are nice to people. You should be proud when you help someone. You should not be proud of where you were born or what color your skin is or that you are attracted to the opposite gender. No, that pretty much implies there are worse places to be born, worse colors of skin to have, and that there is something wrong with homosexuals. There aren't and there isn't.
I lived for 6 and a half years with a woman who was born in China. She came to the US when she was 26. I feel this gave me a little more insight into the Chinese mind than the average American has. My ears always perk up when I hear anything bad being said about China. Sadly, my ex-girlfriends father didn't speak English, and after his stroke he didn't speak much at all. But the story I heard was that my ex-girlfriend existed because he spoke out against the Chinese government. He was a professor in China, and when he criticized too much they took his job away. So being bored, they had one more child.
If I had to guess though, I'd bet he loved China. I can't stand the US imperialistic attitude. I can't stand how much money this country spends on a military we don't need. But I do love that I can can say I hate America and burn it's flag and protest all I want. I hate that I just stole the word American from Canadians and all the South American countries like most stupid US Citizens do because it sounds better than saying you hate the US.
I am optimistic that the world is getting better. Children are less racist and homophobic than old people. I think people are awesome and together we truly accomplish magnificent things. I think we can convince everyone else of this. I think we can all get into the mindset of Team Humanity. It doesn't matter if you are born in China or the US, you are awesome.
Yes, we all do stupid, stupid things, but most of that is out of feeling desperate, or being uneducated.
I am certainly proud we at least elected a black president. I don't want to be ageist, but the only age demographic that he won among white people were 18-29 year olds. Mr. Positive's child has a t-shirt that says "A black man has been president my whole life" and this is fricking awesome.
To me the big problem with America is The American Dream. It's all about becoming rich so that everyone else can serve you. The top of the food chain needs to remember that you don't survive without the bottom. The game seems to be to treat people as badly as they can. I think people are just afraid. Or they are unhappy and want to blame someone. I don't think this experience is unique to America, though.
In a lot of ways it's good to be an American because I have insight into the minds of the people of one of the largest AND most powerful countries in the world. And that is what I want...more people working together. There are plenty of resources on this planet. We can educate ourselves, control our population, and pretty much be happy. People seem to think that they want to be richer than everyone else, and that somehow that makes them better too. Better at what? I'm not going to beat Tiger Woods at golf, but there are a ton of games he's not going to beat me at. Sure, he's got a lot more money than me, but if I decide I want a hooker it's not going to upset anyone.
Americans are pretty spoiled. Not all of us, but most. We are big though, and I sometimes envy the smallness of other countries. Just don't don't get too into in-group thinking. Remember Team Humanity.