We sincerely are depending on readers of this article to tell us. If you are American, an expat living in America, or if you have heard of the US and have an image of what it is to be American, we want to hear from you.
I’m writing this article and asking for help defining the identity of American because most of what I have classically defined as being American is disappearing or is long gone.
Enjoying leisure time. Back in 1986 there was a movie with Michael Keaton and George Wendt called Gung Ho. The film was about how the Japanese were more efficient and hard working than their American counterparts. At the time, Americans were very critical of the Japanese work ethic. To Americans, sleeping at your job was unimaginable. An American’s family and freedom was number one. Zap forward to today. Although Americans are not the most efficient workers, they work longer hours than any other industrialized country’s workers.
American ingenuity. While other countries had always been way ahead of the US in general education and knowledge, that didn’t stop America from aiming high and achieving the impossible. We were the country that with its Army through pure resolve and force turned the tables in WWII. Americans went to the moon on computers less powerful than the average person’s cell phone today. I think of that scene in Apollo 13 when the astronauts are having a problem with their oxygen supply and the engineers at NASA come in, dump a pile of junk on the table and say this is what we have. let’s make something that will fix the problem. Although they were just TV shows. I would be amiss if I didn’t mention MacGyver or the A-Team, who could construct powerful weapons out of a soda can, used chewing gum and a shoelace. Today American leaders tell the people, “No, sorry you can’t have universal healthcare, free preschool, or paid maternity leave” despite the fact that the rest of the world has these things. And the American people accept these words, saying, “Oh yes, that would be nice, but it is just a dream for us“.
The Justice System. Americans once believed that they had the fairest justice system in the world. Today, Americans are afraid to put suspected terrorists on trial for fear that the justice system will fail. White people systematically receive lighter sentences than people of color, and if you are rich you can expect no consequences for breaking the word of law.
Free and Fair Elections. Americans used to scoff at dictatorships where the dictator would receive 90% percent of the vote. Today, voter repression laws common. Yet election fraud is not newsworthy. The people are aware of the corruption and the media’s unreliability, but few seem to mind.
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