I’ll never forget my first trip abroad as an alleged adult. I was baffled by the European way of doing things. Why, for instance, were there massive garbage receptacles with 4 giant holes on every corner? Doesn’t anyone NEED the privacy of their own car in Europe, or is public transportation good enough? Why was everyone so thin when there was a gorgeous bakery every five feet? Must every public place emit the pungent aroma of body sweat and stale smoke? How could a culture possibly take karaoke so seriously? And, for the love of God, why was fabulous wine so cheap?
By departure time, I had learned to appreciate these cultural norms with enough enthusiasm to scare off your average American. A miraculous thing had happened to my brain; it was wrenched open with a crow bar so that I questioned everything about my upbringing. It happened despite the fact I had had a remarkably cultured childhood compared to your average JOE.
But it was years more of teaching, traveling, and studying cultural geography before I came to REALLY grasp the differences between the American way of thinking & the old world way. I finally got it.
The U.S. is very young; a teenager, one could say. It’s a country in the throws of economical temper tantrums & hormonal war fare. It turns up the music when criticized, rather than listens to the sage advice of those who have gone there before it. Its metabolism is voracious as it gobbles up every crumb of food, space, or resource possible. Slamming doors in the face of spirited opposition and falling victim to the self-centered, ego-driven phase of adolescence are its specialties.
On the other hand, not being jaded is a brilliant thing. Fresh idealism and the golden DREAMS of opportunity never fade, since anything is possible in this land. Venturing into uncharted territory is a beauty mark of the nation’s bravery. Technological wizardry and a zeal for workaholism help keep the country in the top ranks of the world. America’s melting pot status is enviable, and its ability to come together for a cause, regardless of its regional divisions and gargantuan size, can be astounding.
Make no mistake! The U.S. is my beloved home and I would defend it to the death. But we have much to learn. Putting aside fear and accepting the values of others could only serve the country and the WORLD well.