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Old 02-08-2002, 05:02 PM   #1
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Being an American?

I took this quote from Bubba off of another big thread.

9/11 is a watershed moment, then. A singular moment where most Americans did the right thing and disregarded race, sex, and social status and embraced what it means to be an American. As we were rocked by an act of war, we showed our true colors

So what does it take to be an american?

What does it me to be a human being?

Is being an american equivalent of being the perfect human?

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Old 02-08-2002, 05:18 PM   #2
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There is a contingent that really does think that being an American is the equivalent of perfection, but not everyone believes this by far. You will always have your extremists in the world, the ones who think of America as "God's country" and those who think that America is the "Great Satan." Both are vocal minorities who would like you to think that they represent everyone, but, in my heart, I don't think that the silent majority is either polar opposite. At least, I hope so.

There are lots of Americans who really do care about what our influence does around the world, but there are always some that really only think of themselves. However, I've run into this in every country I've visited. You have your British who are resoundedly anti-European, you have your French who are resoundly anti-anglophile, etc. It's funny what patriotism brings out in people sometimes.

As for that 9/11 statement, I believe it is a product of romanticist ideals. We are always searching for that moment that defines who or what we are; that climactic moment in the movie where everything suddenly makes sense and we can finally get that happy ending. However, it is silly to think that life will not move on and go back to "normal." Unlike a film, life doesn't end abruptly, and one cannot think that planting a flag will somehow make centuries of conflict and anger disappear just like that. It does appear that people have finished grieving for 9/11 and are going right back to where things were before that event. Back to Congressional bickering, back to violent Hollywood action films, etc. At least we can honestly state that bin Laden didn't change us in the slightest.

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Old 02-08-2002, 10:47 PM   #3
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You know melon as time goes by i find myself agreeing with you more and more. I agree with you here that you find it in every country. But i think you find alot more countries hating there own more then americans hate america. That of course is a good thing for americans. I mean not to put down american patriotism, i actually think if every country was as proud as americans do they would be better people for it. I do however hate the constant arogance some americans resinate.

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Old 02-09-2002, 12:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by bonoman:

9/11 is a watershed moment, then. A singular moment where most Americans did the right thing and disregarded race, sex, and social status and embraced what it means to be an American. As we were rocked by an act of war, we showed our true colors

It's no great mystery that Americans have a short attention span.. And this is manifested in more examples than I could use to fill 9 Microsoft Word pages..
And it's true that things are in the process of going back to normal, for better or worse, but I think that this travesty, and the feelings of pride for our country, and just the sense of unity will stick with us a little bit more than one would expect of Americans who are crutched with the Mystical ADD... And if not.. The Somewhat EMpty New York Skyline will always be a reminder.

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Old 02-09-2002, 10:23 AM   #5
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You know, it always annoys me when all citizens in a country of this size are painted by the same brush (ignorant of the world, selfish, rich, war-mongers, etc.). A country of any size, really. I mean, if you look at just the Americans that pop in here, you will side a very diverse group of people, with widely differing opinions, etc. Same as with say, Iranians - watching BBC News last night I saw a protest on a group of citizens from Iran protesting the government there and hoping for increased relations with the West. But the assumption about them is that they harbor terrorists and are just like the Taliban. You can't just judge an entire group of people by the color of the flag they live under.

What does it mean to be an American? I live in the United States, pay taxes, and have the right to say what I want (with some minor limitations) - I have the right to vote to elect my leader. I can travel freely between the states (unless I'm on parole or probation or something). It doesn't mean I think a certain way, feel a certain way or support a certain set of politics, or am any more or less informed about the world than anyone anywhere else.

Rant over.
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Old 02-09-2002, 11:18 AM   #6
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Being a good American equal to being a perfect human? Oh hell no. Far from it. Being an American allows for a lot of things. But it does not give you a card to being a good (perfect is a word that bothers me too much to say in reference to such things) human! Being an American entitles you to nothing more than being an individual. That's what it takes to be an American. Be you. And thank God every day that you can be you and not be prosectued (note I said prosecuted not persecuted) for it. You can sit at home, or scream in a crowded place, how much you hate our President, your Governor, or even your Senator/Legislator and not get killed. Now that's a good thought don't you think? While I don't appreciate people walking all over their American unalienable rights or just plain not appreciating everything they have here, I tolerate it and tell myself that they have the right to do so, they are Americans.

As far as what does it mean to be human, well I can't help you out there. In fact nobody can help you out there. It's a personal journey that one has to go through and figure out for themselves. Good luck!

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Old 02-09-2002, 11:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by bonoman:
Is being an american equivalent of being the perfect human?

!
?


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Old 02-09-2002, 11:43 AM   #8
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I will never understand this talk about 'being an American', or 'being a good American'; why not be proud in being a human being, and a good one at that?

Ant.
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Old 02-09-2002, 01:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
I will never understand this talk about 'being an American', or 'being a good American'; why not be proud in being a human being, and a good one at that?

Ant.

Anthony, with all due respect, it's probably because you aren't American. Honestly. It's bizarre how much we care about being a good American when we don't even know how to be a good person. But it is something that is almost bred into us to be "good" Americans. Whatever the hell that means.


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Old 02-10-2002, 02:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lilly:
Being a good American equal to being a perfect human? Oh hell no. Far from it. Being an American allows for a lot of things. But it does not give you a card to being a good (perfect is a word that bothers me too much to say in reference to such things) human! Being an American entitles you to nothing more than being an individual. That's what it takes to be an American. Be you. And thank God every day that you can be you and not be prosectued (note I said prosecuted not persecuted) for it. You can sit at home, or scream in a crowded place, how much you hate our President, your Governor, or even your Senator/Legislator and not get killed. Now that's a good thought don't you think? While I don't appreciate people walking all over their American unalienable rights or just plain not appreciating everything they have here, I tolerate it and tell myself that they have the right to do so, they are Americans.
Very well said.

In response to the original question, I believe it comes down to freedom and responsibility:

The American ideal is broadbased personal freedom: economic freedom in the form of capitalism; political freedom in the form of a democratically elected representative government; and religious freedom expressed through tolerance and pluralism.

True, capitalism was already the norm in Western Europe, but America is unique in that we may have been the first nation since pre-imperial Rome to embrace a republic - and the first ever, as far as I know, to have been partially formed from the desire for religious freedom.

We are truly the "Great Experiment" in freedom.

But, as the Founding Fathers recognized, that freedom comes with great responsibility, which can be summed up in the Christian command to "love your neighbor as yourself" (an imperative that most religions also recognize). In such a state of freedom, the government cannot do everything - or even most things. So, individuals must look after each other, be blind to our differences, and show themselves willing to defend the freedom they so enjoy.

And, between the donations of time, money, and blood; the apparent unity of spirit; and the almost universal recognition that war is necessary, I see that America - at least for an instant - is acting like it should.
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Old 02-12-2002, 07:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
I will never understand this talk about 'being an American', or 'being a good American'; why not be proud in being a human being, and a good one at that?
Ideally, that would be the right way to be, and that's what John Lennon was on about, but lately I have noticed that reality is different. Since moving to a country where people do their best not to show any national pride, I have come to believe that not being proud of your country can be just as bad as being too proud of it.

And on a personal note, the only thing that all the Americans I have met had in common was that they were all LOUD!
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Old 02-12-2002, 11:46 AM   #12
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Originally posted by Klodomir:
Since moving to a country where people do their best not to show any national pride, I have come to believe that not being proud of your country can be just as bad as being too proud of it.
true, it can be

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Old 02-12-2002, 04:16 PM   #13
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I refuse to believe that, Klodomir. The day people realise that the only thing to be proud is the best of human values, instead of 'their country', the world will be a better place.

It is because people are too proud of their countries and nationalities that War is created. I for one am NOT proud of my country. Why should I be? It has one of the worst histories ever, and that is applied to everyone, including America. We all have pasts, and we all have sinned, what on Earth is there to be proud of?

Ashamed? No.
Proud? Neither.

Ant.

[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 02-12-2002).]
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Old 02-12-2002, 04:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Klodomir:
And on a personal note, the only thing that all the Americans I have met had in common was that they were all LOUD!
I was in France, where I've noticed that most of the French speak softly...or at least "softly" in comparison to America. Anyway, here I was with a group of high school students (I was one too at the time), where they are screaming, laughing as loud as they could, and skipping around as they were walking! I was, and still am, more reserved, so I was quite embarrassed then.

I generally hate stereotypes, even though I know I'm not immune to having them, but I was wondering if this "loud American" stereotype was really generally true??

Melon

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Old 02-12-2002, 04:38 PM   #15
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We have to talk loud to drown out all of the people from other countries.
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Old 02-12-2002, 06:14 PM   #16
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Originally posted by U2Bama:
We have to talk loud to drown out all of the people from other countries.

lol @ your statement, Bama!

I spent a great deal of time in the UK, and have noticed that the larger groups of Americans in my class were loud (especially when the younger ones got ahold of the pints) They were generally less reserved, somewhat flamboyant yet at the same time too casual, and for the most part couldn't quite get the hang of the fact that not everybody in England owns a car and therefore we had to rely on walking or public transportation (the students and I were from California) When we first arrived off that plane, all wide eyed and full of wanderlust, we pretty much immediately fit the stereotypes: Americans are loud, obnoxious, lazy, and even arrogant. Sure these are stereotypes but there is a tiny grain of truth in there somewhere. After a short while of living in the UK, we eventually blended in quite well and as a whole, our demeanors changed as we settled into living our lives in England. We would see tourists walking about London and we could "spot" the Americans from a mile away. I guess you could say it takes one to know one. The stereotypes sometimes do fit - but I think in general at least in the UK, the English do find most Americans to be friendly and charmed to be abroad. At least that was my experience.

As far as what it means to be an American, I think that's a good question. A bit like an essay project for a high school paper, but a good question nontheless.

I personally can't explain what it means to be an American, although when I travel I want to be a good ambassador, a good representative of my country. I want to set a good example for my son by respecting the cultures and everything that comes with it while visiting another country - I don't want to come across as lazy or arrogant or loud mouthed, I don't want to fit the typical American stereotype because I'm really not like that anyway. And if I come in contact with someone from another country visiting the USA, I feel it's important to make that visitor feel welcome in my "home."

Which brings me to another point. America is my home, and even though I dig my house, sometimes it needs a little improvement. Sometimes the doorhinge squeaks and I complain. When the roof leaks I want it fixed. I want my garden to be nice and tidy, and I want to make sure my welcome mat isn't mud covered. Like my actual home, I do take a certain pride in America because it is where I live. I am not a flag waving patriot by any stretch, and I am keenly aware of the USA's sketchy history - but I live in America and I am proud of the fact that my grandparents went through hell just so they could come to the States and give themselves a chance to prosper because they couldn't do so in their motherlands. Really, if someone were to ask me to my face what it means to be an American, I would direct them to my grandparents - for they are the ones who I feel, truly know what it means. I was priveledged to have been born in the States and don't know of a life otherwise... therefore I strongly feel that it is not only my duty to be a "good" American, but a good human being. Because in the end that's what we all are no matter what country we come from.
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Old 02-12-2002, 07:02 PM   #17
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very well said adams misstres!!

I think alot of americans and other cultures think a good american means: that if america went to war you should support them, go to church on sundays, help a neighbour, stop and give a bum 5 dollars. these are some of the examples i can think of right now. Its like the stuff you see in the movies. That good american 'quality'. You always see it in hollywood movies.

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Old 02-13-2002, 06:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
I refuse to believe that, Klodomir. The day people realise that the only thing to be proud is the best of human values, instead of 'their country', the world will be a better place.
That's not what Klodomir was saying. It's not that we are proud on the best of human values instead. It's just that we complain about everything. It's in our blood and we can't help it.

Marty (who hates all these annoying threads that cost too much time to read )



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Old 02-13-2002, 06:39 AM   #19
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Hehe... looks like I made sense to the Dutch and nobody else.
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Old 02-14-2002, 03:48 AM   #20
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Hehe... looks like I made sense to the Dutch and nobody else.
I wouldn't bet on it
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