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Old 10-06-2008, 06:56 AM
 
527 posts, read 855,515 times
Reputation: 366

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As I listen to the news and read the blogs, I often wonder what people actually think being an American is all about.

I know what the media says that the world thinks of us. But how do they and how do we define ourselves?

How would you define being an American?
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Old 10-06-2008, 06:59 AM
 
527 posts, read 855,515 times
Reputation: 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednemtheadventurer View Post
As I listen to the news and read the blogs, I often wonder what people actually think being an American is all about.

I know what the media says that the world thinks of us. But how do they and how do we define ourselves?

How would you define being an American?
I used to be a professional stuntman for the entertainment industry and had to work with this guy from Burbank, CA. He and I got along great! We were exactly alike and had the same sense of humor. We were friends for years and then one day the subject of ‘Our Country’ came up and I was beyond shocked to hear that he had the exact polar opposite view of America than I did. (AND BELIEVED EVERY WORD OF IT!)

He views America as the most corrupt nation on the face of the earth. Who imposes its Imperialist WILL on the entire world against their wishes, cultures, and traditions. America’s very origins were pure hypocrisy and were created by slave owning traitors to their original governments. He also views the Republican Party as everything that is wrong with the U.S. because it is the embodiment of pure evil. Everything bad that has happened in history is due to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party has struggled with trying to help the people against insurmountable odds. His political views are Socialist, Communist, and as far away from my beliefs as possible! (We haven’t talked in 7 years since this conversation)

Now I, in now way, think the United States of America is perfect… but I do think that we are the greatest and most benevolent country out there. The very origins of America sprung up around ‘HOPE’. It was the hope of a fresh start, the hope for a better life, and the hope for freedom that drove people to the North American continent. The people that migrated here were willing to brave all hardships and leave everything they had ever known behind them for HOPE! Foreign governments paid for expeditions to the Americas seeing the opportunity of wealth and free natural resources to be exploited. They brought slaves, Chinese, and others to work and help protect them from the hostile tribes that they encountered.

Over the years the people and cultures from all over the world began to slowly blend together and form their own identity, incorporating much from the Native Americans that they encountered as well. As they began to form their own identities; they began to resent foreign governments taxing their hard labor and having control over their lives. These people made America their home and because they melded into a society of their own, they viewed their ancestral homelands as the outsider.

At this point, everyone wanting hope, opportunity, wealth, a fresh start, religious freedom, or adventure filled this continent. Sickness, extreme hardship, and Indian attacks had thinned the herd and what was left was a rich and hardy stock of people who rebelled against an oppressive over-taxing foreign government. These people lost everything to free themselves from all other outside authorities. Once they did that… they all had to decide on what type of government they would have. There were many arguments and debates; but they came up with… "life, liberty and property" in the Declaration of Colonial Rights. Later changed to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, because some people still viewed slaves as property. The government was set up as a Republic. (originating from the Latin term res publica meaning a “public matter”.) As close to a Democracy as possible the people would decide on things and then elect a person to represent and enact their views in the government. The American government was intended to be as small as possible, have only minor powers, and just be used to help the people along. Taxes were always meant to be low because the burden of working hard for taxes was fresh in their minds and the people fought many battles to keep them low.

Over the next phase of this great country… the greatest minds from all over the world filtered in and were allowed to let loose. In a very short period of time America (U.S.A.) had rose to incredible power and influence. The power of the people coupled with the free market spawned many benefits for the world as a whole. The United States of America had abolished slavery, created equal rights, produced a huge number of inventions that have made the world a better, safer, and healthier place; and helped friends and foes alike during natural disasters, etc.

What I cannot get my friend to see is that there are more good things than bad things. My friend believes with every fiber of his being that America is always wrong because it had slaves, is racist, has a glass ceiling, created and used the nuclear bomb, and oppresses people the world over. Now that these Obama and Palin situations have come up, I am hearing all kinds of anti-American talk. So I ask everybody… In your eyes what does it mean to be an American? I honestly want to know your thoughts. Please remember, I was condensing 200+ years of history and facts into a few paragraphs so I over simplified my statement, but that is at the heart of my beliefs.
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Old 10-06-2008, 07:12 AM
 
Location: St. Joseph Area
6,237 posts, read 8,461,586 times
Reputation: 3101
Being an American...hmmm....I'm not a super patriot, but I do like the United States. It's a great country with tons of opportunity, and a fabulous history of purging our national sins (like slavery etc...) Is it the greatest country? Maybe...I see it more as a great country among several. Britain, Australia and Canada are also great countries. But America is definitely among the greatest, and will likely remain so.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
Reputation: 36087
That's easy. Exercising a legitimate claim to American citizenship
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:16 AM
 
Location: DFW, TX
2,935 posts, read 6,124,464 times
Reputation: 571
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednemtheadventurer View Post
How would you define being an American?
Being born in the Americas, North or South.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
Reputation: 36087
Quote:
Originally Posted by KantLockeMeIn View Post
Being born in the Americas, North or South.

I wonder if this same silly quibble takes place over and over again in southern Africa. Is a Zimbabwean or a Mozambican or an Angolan a "South African"?

I ask this rhetorically, only to persuade ALL posters to address the meaning and the spirit of the question, and not hijack it into the same tired old hair-splitter based on the failure of the Founding Fathers to give the country a name, like all other countries have.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:32 AM
 
8,973 posts, read 14,930,360 times
Reputation: 2989
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednemtheadventurer View Post
I used to be a professional stuntman for the entertainment industry and had to work with this guy from Burbank, CA. He and I got along great! We were exactly alike and had the same sense of humor. We were friends for years and then one day the subject of ‘Our Country’ came up and I was beyond shocked to hear that he had the exact polar opposite view of America than I did. (AND BELIEVED EVERY WORD OF IT!)

He views America as the most corrupt nation on the face of the earth. Who imposes its Imperialist WILL on the entire world against their wishes, cultures, and traditions. America’s very origins were pure hypocrisy and were created by slave owning traitors to their original governments. He also views the Republican Party as everything that is wrong with the U.S. because it is the embodiment of pure evil. Everything bad that has happened in history is due to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party has struggled with trying to help the people against insurmountable odds. His political views are Socialist, Communist, and as far away from my beliefs as possible! (We haven’t talked in 7 years since this conversation)

Now I, in now way, think the United States of America is perfect… but I do think that we are the greatest and most benevolent country out there. The very origins of America sprung up around ‘HOPE’. It was the hope of a fresh start, the hope for a better life, and the hope for freedom that drove people to the North American continent. The people that migrated here were willing to brave all hardships and leave everything they had ever known behind them for HOPE! Foreign governments paid for expeditions to the Americas seeing the opportunity of wealth and free natural resources to be exploited. They brought slaves, Chinese, and others to work and help protect them from the hostile tribes that they encountered.

Over the years the people and cultures from all over the world began to slowly blend together and form their own identity, incorporating much from the Native Americans that they encountered as well. As they began to form their own identities; they began to resent foreign governments taxing their hard labor and having control over their lives. These people made America their home and because they melded into a society of their own, they viewed their ancestral homelands as the outsider.

At this point, everyone wanting hope, opportunity, wealth, a fresh start, religious freedom, or adventure filled this continent. Sickness, extreme hardship, and Indian attacks had thinned the herd and what was left was a rich and hardy stock of people who rebelled against an oppressive over-taxing foreign government. These people lost everything to free themselves from all other outside authorities. Once they did that… they all had to decide on what type of government they would have. There were many arguments and debates; but they came up with… "life, liberty and property" in the Declaration of Colonial Rights. Later changed to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, because some people still viewed slaves as property. The government was set up as a Republic. (originating from the Latin term res publica meaning a “public matter”.) As close to a Democracy as possible the people would decide on things and then elect a person to represent and enact their views in the government. The American government was intended to be as small as possible, have only minor powers, and just be used to help the people along. Taxes were always meant to be low because the burden of working hard for taxes was fresh in their minds and the people fought many battles to keep them low.

Over the next phase of this great country… the greatest minds from all over the world filtered in and were allowed to let loose. In a very short period of time America (U.S.A.) had rose to incredible power and influence. The power of the people coupled with the free market spawned many benefits for the world as a whole. The United States of America had abolished slavery, created equal rights, produced a huge number of inventions that have made the world a better, safer, and healthier place; and helped friends and foes alike during natural disasters, etc.

What I cannot get my friend to see is that there are more good things than bad things. My friend believes with every fiber of his being that America is always wrong because it had slaves, is racist, has a glass ceiling, created and used the nuclear bomb, and oppresses people the world over. Now that these Obama and Palin situations have come up, I am hearing all kinds of anti-American talk. So I ask everybody… In your eyes what does it mean to be an American? I honestly want to know your thoughts. Please remember, I was condensing 200+ years of history and facts into a few paragraphs so I over simplified my statement, but that is at the heart of my beliefs.
Quite a long post...but I generally agree with you. America's great freedoms, ironically, allow us to 'sit around and criticize ourselves'. Our good points are easy to discount, or to look at as 'irrelevant'. Our bad points (many of which we have gone to GREAT lengths to correct), are held up as indicative of how we "really" are.

In such an argument, you just can't win. The times at present, and the culture, are simply in a "guilt" mode...which may, or may not, someday be replaced by something else. Meanwhile, we look for the WORST in ourselves, and compare it to the BEST in others, and wonder why we 'come up short'.

Often we're cited as "being against diversity". We ARE? Hmmmm. I don't know where that came from, but as for me, my spouse and I are of two races...and there are at LEAST two other races in our extended families. These people include the religious, the agnostic, and the atheist....blue collar. professionals, high-school dropouts as well as a number of PhD's...democrats, republicans, and independents...military 'lifers' as well as 'draft dodgers'....a few gay people, a few divorced, a few long-term married....a few who've had 'issues' with the law.....the very well-off, and a few FAR from well-off.....all in "MY" family.

Just exactly what sort of "diversity" are we missing here? It's never been made clear to me. We're ALSO constantly reminded how "hard" we are on our 20 million or so illegal 'residents'. How so? Do we really think 20 million people chose to ignore our laws and come here illegally, so we could 'abuse' them? Really? Seems to ME like they're here because, imperfect as their situation might be here, it's better than their situation back home. Yet, once again, America is the "bad guy"...lacking compassion, full of angry xenophobes, reveling in its racist past, and 'bullying' the rest of the world.

I guess it all makes sense, as long as we never compare ourselves with ANYWHERE else...which, evidently, we're not allowed to do.

As for the original question, "Define an American" ?...sorry, I can't help. Apparently there IS no definition that everyone would agree with. Being an American, in short, is "anything you WANT it to be".
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
1,773 posts, read 2,549,240 times
Reputation: 213
Being an American is nothing more than being a citizen of this country - either by birth or naturalization PERIOD
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:04 AM
 
527 posts, read 855,515 times
Reputation: 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by macmeal View Post
Quite a long post...but I generally agree with you. America's great freedoms, ironically, allow us to 'sit around and criticize ourselves'. Our good points are easy to discount, or to look at as 'irrelevant'. Our bad points (many of which we have gone to GREAT lengths to correct), are held up as indicative of how we "really" are.

In such an argument, you just can't win. The times at present, and the culture, are simply in a "guilt" mode...which may, or may not, someday be replaced by something else. Meanwhile, we look for the WORST in ourselves, and compare it to the BEST in others, and wonder why we 'come up short'.

Often we're cited as "being against diversity". We ARE? Hmmmm. I don't know where that came from, but as for me, my spouse and I are of two races...and there are at LEAST two other races in our extended families. These people include the religious, the agnostic, and the atheist....blue collar. professionals, high-school dropouts as well as a number of PhD's...democrats, republicans, and independents...military 'lifers' as well as 'draft dodgers'....a few gay people, a few divorced, a few long-term married....a few who've had 'issues' with the law.....the very well-off, and a few FAR from well-off.....all in "MY" family.

Just exactly what sort of "diversity" are we missing here? It's never been made clear to me. We're ALSO constantly reminded how "hard" we are on our 20 million or so illegal 'residents'. How so? Do we really think 20 million people chose to ignore our laws and come here illegally, so we could 'abuse' them? Really? Seems to ME like they're here because, imperfect as their situation might be here, it's better than their situation back home. Yet, once again, America is the "bad guy"...lacking compassion, full of angry xenophobes, reveling in its racist past, and 'bullying' the rest of the world.

I guess it all makes sense, as long as we never compare ourselves with ANYWHERE else...which, evidently, we're not allowed to do.

As for the original question, "Define an American" ?...sorry, I can't help. Apparently there IS no definition that everyone would agree with. Being an American, in short, is "anything you WANT it to be".
I just wanted to read your definition.
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:06 AM
 
527 posts, read 855,515 times
Reputation: 366
Maybe... 'Define being American' is too cut-n-dry. I was just curious as to what people (American's and non-Americans) idea of an American was.
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