Monday, June 05, 2006

American Me?

American Me?



I look out my window at work all day starring at a car dealership and its fleet of American flags. The flag and the idea of what an American is has become an interesting concept to me lately. I am not sure when or how it happened but my first visual image that comes into focus when I see the flag or hear the word American is an ignorant, overweight, Budweiser drinking, swabben, churchgoing, truck driving, gun tooting, racist hillbilly. Now obviously I know that is not the case as I know plenty of Americans who are anything but that stereotype. I started to wonder why I think like that and really couldn’t come up with any valid reasons for my thoughts on..

1.) What is an American?

2.) What does this country really stand for?


My conjecture at this point is those images and words are associated in my head to the unflattering picture of an American precisely because those are the people who are most proud of this country. They are the ones with the flag in their yard and bumper stickers on their trucks. And I am left wondering is everybody else who makes up the majority of this country afraid of proclaiming their American heritage? Is there a reason we rarely see a view on TV or Radio that expresses decent to this ideal of what is an American? Or am I just not paying close enough attention? Is everyone else afraid to be an American like me? Why am I ashamed?

People often say, “If you don’t like it here then leave.” What if the British said that to the founding fathers? What if they left? What if George Washington was like you you’re your right and moved to Canada? Dissent is good! Conflict is good! Creativity is the next revolution and creativity is stress compounding with freewill. What if those in the dissenting opinion now are the founding fathers to the next new age of America? What if we left? American is not the land of the complacent and entrenched it is the land of the free. It is the land of those who are wiling to risk it all for an ideal. Not those who are ill entitled by right of birth..

Maybe none of this makes sense but wth…some random thoughts for you.

Anyone else have some thoughts on the subject?

10 comments:

Say Rah! said...

a lot of the time i walk around feeling like i don't belong here because i'm not necessarily proud of what america has come to represent to the rest of the world. what do we do about it? i have no clue.

i think i could probably deal up in canada.

Megsta said...

Now you're talkin... sorry Bri, but it's been a while since you've posted anything that's gotten me even the tiniest bit wrilled up. I could go on and on, but I'll keep it to this.... saw a latino woman on the bus today with an american flag t-shirt, navy blue with the shape of a butterfly filled in with the good 'ole stars n stripes... hmmm makes you think. I like your concept "What if the those in the dissenting opinion now are the founding fathers to the next new age of America? What if we left?". But where would we go? There are no places like North America was back then left in the world... and why should we leave? Why not work to create the land we can be proud to live in right under our feet? Our "American Way" has produced so many "ways", ideas and ideals, that it becomes very hard to define what exactly it is and means as a whole. We supposedly welcome and embrace all people and beliefs - yet I hear a good amount of people bitching about the "foreigners" in this land who do not speak English. I can't help but to think back to those people's own ancestors and wonder were they really working day and night on the boat ride over to master the english language? How many people do you know that speak the true NATIVE tonge of this land? Who is really entitled to this land and it's concepts? And another scary thing... aren't there people planning to leave as we speak? Develope colonies and such on the moon? Mars? Let's start spreadin the American joy throughout the universe! Whoa! Okay I'll stopt my ranting for now - but I'll be checking back, as I am very interested to see what other's have to say on this subject.

Rocketstar said...

I think you hit on it in your post. It is "easy", it is "simple" to be a flag touting fat, lazy American and it is much more difficult to be a "questioning, let's make it a better country" American.

The fat, lazy, stupid American who thinks that "The Hague" is an ancient disease finds ease and comfort in just chanting the mantra "America" is #1" and waving an American flag.

The same way they wear corsses around thier neck and call themselves Christians.

Dissent is the ultimate sign of Patriotism.

Matthew Anderson said...

Fortunately for me, running to Canada is actually running home! ;)

Matthew Anderson said...

Fortunately for me, running for Canada is actually running for home ;)

Say Rah! said...

the hague = the plague. funny, rocket.

lauren said...

Like Megsta, I too liked your question, "What if the those in the dissenting opinion now are the founding fathers to the next new age of America?"

There really isn't a "what if" about it. Those with a dissenting opinion are raising the questions that will shape the future of this country. The policies that are issued are a direct result of the questions raised. The new America may not turn out exactly as the dissenters might have imagined it to be, but in part their raised voices did something to bring that change about.

As to your question about "what is an American," I think it depends too on where your personal pride in this nation stands. Although I am sad and angry about how America is perceived by other countries, I'm grateful to live in a nation where I can, as a woman, go to school, get a job, own a car, have sex before I'm married and not be stoned to death, etc. I also am very proud and very grateful for the troops that are off fighting a war that no one else wants to fight, regardless of how much I disagree with that war personally.

I because my feelings about America are more positive, I see "an American" in a more positive way. I am reminded of that commercial "I am an American" where people of all different colors, languages, etc. say that they are American. There is no typical American, for the very reason that we do listen to so many dissenters... dissenters who enable EVERYONE to become an American if they so choose.

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Nick said...

Brian, the stereotype you describe is just that. Unfortunately, folks like that are conspicuous by their presence. I submit to you, however, that most Americans are reasonable folks who might disagree with each other, but who very much appreciate the right to dissent.

What does America stand for? I think it (not necessarily uniquely) does stand for some overarching principles such as democracy (in the small-"r" republican sense) and industriousness. But one of my favorite things about this country is that on so many issues, there is no consensus. There is no true "American" view on so many things because of our racial, ethnic, cultural, ideological, etc. diversities.

That's one of the things that makes me love this country, along with the things Lauren describes. I'm not afraid to say that, despite my disagreement with some of the USA's official policies, I'm proud of this country and very happy to be here.

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