Today’s July 4th, when Americans profess loudly just how proud they are to be Americans. Flipping through Facebook this morning I see a dozen posts about it already…sigh.
Am I lucky to be an American with all the freedoms we enjoy (at least, until they’re finally chipped away)? Yes, I am. But proud to be an American? I usually reserve pride for things I actually accomplished myself. I just happen to have been born here, you see…it’s really all about luck. So my answer is no, I’m not proud of being an American in that sense. Too much pride leads to arrogance, and I think too many Americans are already arrogant enough.
Our politicians say the terrorists haven’t won, but watching how many of my fellow Americans are acting, sometimes I wonder. This poster really gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? It recently appeared on Salon in a tiny thumbnail, so the artist cooked up a larger version to share on Facebook. It’s brilliant! (You can download a hi-res version as well.)
Here’s a shocker for ya: according to a recent poll, most folks in Britain view Americans as vulgar. Gee, really? Hmmm, I wonder why.
Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite. American troops are failing either to win “hearts and minds” in Iraq or bring democracy to that country.
Oh, that. But of course this kind of news couldn’t hit the streets without the American embassy getting involved:
A spokesman for the American embassy said that the poll’s findings were contradicted by its own surveys. “We question the judgment of anyone who asserts the world would be a better place with Saddam still terrorizing his own nation and threatening people well beyond Iraq’s borders.”
Jesus. That tired old argument again? Surely the American embassy can do better than to regurgitate the same peepeecaca that Bush’s ilk have been spewing for the last few years, but perhaps not. Oh, and of course their survey findings were pro-war. AS IF we’d expect them to cough up anything else.
Oh dear… Looks like a boisterous attitude and all-American arrogance wasn’t quite enough this time.
They were confident. They were hyped. They promised that the world’s game had arrived in the United States — and that the world best beware.
Instead of building on their World Cup glory of 2002, much less matching it, the Americans crashed out in the first round, just like in 1998, overmatched by superior opponents and their own expectations.
On another note, is there anything more delightful than seeing sheer disappointment descend upon the face of a sports fanatic like a dark raincloud obscuring the sweet summer sun?
Sorry, my mean streak is acting up again. 🙂
What is the typical American tourist like? Loud, arrogant, impatient, badly dressed? Cluelessly expecting the rest of the world to think, communicate, and operate the way America does? Ignorant of their destination country’s culture, language, etc.? That probably covers it. That’s why some American companies are issuing booklets on how to be a good tourist to their traveling employees. Some of the tips are just common sense and courtesy, but I guess some of us need special help… I’m thinking that this guide should be given to everyone the moment they board the plane
Personally I haven’t had a chance to be a “real” tourist yet, but we’re traveling to Germany in August so we’ll see how that goes. Admittedly, one of my fears is being perceived as another lame American once I open my mouth and English (or bad German) comes out… So I’ve been practicing my deaf-mute routine. Just kidding. 🙂
A recent poll shows that Americans are stressed and depressed. Well, no wonder! We’re stuck in traffic every day on our way to jobs that take up most of our waking hours. We’re told by movies and magazines how ugly we are. We’re programmed to focus on materialistic things instead of having life-enriching experiences. We’re alienated from each other because of race, sexuality, politics, religion, even PC vs. Mac preference. We’re dragged down by financial debt. We’re convinced that having a fulfilling life means buying more things. We’re constantly at war with one country or another. Many are unemployed, and many with jobs are finding them to be unfulfilling and meaningless. The media bombards us with fear and suspicion while the government whittles away our freedoms in the name of security. Generally speaking, of course. Yes, there are things to be happy about in the world, but when you think about it, sometimes the other stuff outweighs everything else. Thank goodness we live in a “civilized” society…..
My friend Nicole sent me a sharply-written little commentary about how giant chain stores continue to eat up our smaller towns and turn them into ugly little strip-mall wastelands, devoid of variety and character. We both grew up in a little town in Arizona which is slowly becoming this sort of Big Box scene, sucking the local businesses dry, even those which have been around almost 100 years. Yeah, you can argue that it’s all about business and competition and what consumers want, but when the very soul of your town is being swallowed up by this homogenized corporate non-culture, I think it’s worth the effort to stand up and say “no” to these retail thugs. More and more towns are doing just that, but it’s still a huge struggle when they’re faced with choosing between their town’s identity or new job opportunities, even if those jobs don’t pay much or might not last as long as expected.
Do you want to know what depresses the American spirit? Do you want to know why it feels like the center cannot hold and the tyranny of mediocrity has been loosed upon our world? Do you want to know what instills more thoughts of suicide and creates a desperate, low-level rage the source of which we cannot quite identify but which we know is right under our noses and which we now inhale Prozac and Xanax and Paxil by the truckload to attempt to mollify?
I have your answer. Here it is. Look. It is the appalling spread of big-box strip malls, tract homes like a cancer, metadevelopments paving over the American landscape, all creating a bizarre sense of copious loss, empty excess, heartless glut, forcing us to ask, once again, the Great All-American Question: How can we have so damned much but still feel like we have almost nothing at all?