- This is in answer to:
- List five things you love about your culture. See all answers
- August 10, 2011 by keripeardon
- Five Things I Love About My Culture
1. Americans forget history quickly. As a history major, this bothers me a lot, but it does have an extremely useful purpose: we don't hold grudges. I had a great-uncle who served in the Navy in the Pacific and fought against the Japanese. Here I am, two generations away from Pearl Harbor and I have no grudge at all against Japanese people. In fact, I was the cultural officer for my Japanese anime club in college. People in Europe and the Middle East still hate one another for things that happened in the middle ages. There certainly comes a point where cultural memory becomes negative.
2. Americans are friendly. I've even heard French people admire this quality. Europeans seem to still have that old social reserve that stems from a class structure. America, though, was formed without nobility and has, for the most part, eschewed the sort of class structure that exists in many parts of the world. It's easy to be friendly when you think the person next to you is your equal.
3. America exalts the self-made man. There's nothing Americans like more than a rags-to-riches story. In cultures where there is still a nobility, this story has much less impact, because being rich is not of as much consequence as being noble.
4. Americans are polite. Yes, Americans have a bad reputation when they're overseas, but that often stems from a lack of cultural understanding--meaning we don't understand the culture that we're in, so we commit many social faux pas. We are rarely intentionally rude. (As one Brit pointed out, Americans singly or as couples are delightful tourists; in groups, though, we tend to forget courtesy.) In the mid-west, people still commonly address each other as "sir" and "ma'am." In the South, people hold doors open for each other. Most people still say "excuse me" if they bump into one another on a sidewalk. And we have this wonderful concept of personal space; in any available bubble of space, Americans will be on opposite sides. I found, when I was in Amsterdam, that any bubble of space, Europeans will be right up against you, shoulder to shoulder. The rest of the sidewalk may be empty, but they'll practically be touching you as they walk past.
5. Self-determination. Call me a terrorist, but I love the fact that Americans, compared to Europeans, are a very self-determined people. While our society is changing, most people are still ashamed to take "government handouts" like welfare and food stamps. I have a friend who is a closet Socialist, and he's constantly complaining about how much money rich people have, and how the government should take their money from them and give it to the poor and middle class (known under the euphemism "wealth redistribution"). I am very much against this. I don't want their money because I didn't earn it. Most wealthy people in America earned their wealth; they didn't inherit it. Why should they have it taken away from them? If I want to be filthy rich, I'll work hard for it. I shouldn't be given money by the government because I'm not wealthy; I'm not wealthy because I choose to not be wealthy; I'd rather spend my time doing things other than pursuing the Almighty Dollar. Let people who work for it keep it.