TED Conversations

Don Anderson


This conversation is closed.

I need help with a dilemma: What does it mean to be American? And Why does it work?

Up-date to thread’s scope: (July 10th)

Thanks for all the comments, they have been very helpful.
I have sorted out my feeling on being American, it maybe a jumbled mess but it is working for me. And to avoid rehashing what has been said I’ll leave it at that.

But the large diversity of views here, and within America’s culture, politics, values, heritages, etc. I have to ask;

Why does it work?

By most standards we are a highly dysfunctional group, and should be a failed society.
But here we are a great nation, and by most logic that should not be the case.
Yes we are the home of the free and the brave, but also home of tyrants, cowards, passive, aggressive, moral and immoral and I could go on and on forever.

Americans are often labeled as racist and intolerant, if that was true we would not have more nationalities and different cultures than any other country in the world.
Being American is a lessen tolerance and that is something we can’t experience in heaven, but I feel the lessen goes deeper than that.


Is American where you live, or is American a belief in freedom and liberty for all?

Firstly let me state I believe we are here to learn from experience that we can’t have in heaven. And recently I have had two events in my life that have me confused as to the lesion I should be learning from them.

My Background: I’m just an average lower-middleclass Midwest American.

Experience 1: I have been researching my ancestry for about a year now, and I feel pride with my findings. So far my ancestors range from English noble that came to America in 1633, to peasant framer and serving maid from Prussia (Germany) in 1820. No slave owners, only union army soldiers, fought for America in the war for independence, etc.

Experience 2: Many people throughout the world, now are fighting and/or protesting for freedom and libe


Closing Statement from Don Anderson

I just noticed that when I added the up-date at the top it cutoff some at the bottom.
Basically Experience 2 was feeling shame for the current America and how all the founding values gone, and asked how to address the confecting feelings.
I have concluded that I can feel pride for upholding the founding values of America, and as I witness its fail I should feel sadness instead of shame. And find comfort in that like the Roman Empire it values will live on thought out the world, even though it exists in name only.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 30 2013: unfortunately it is mostly bs
    • thumb
      Jul 1 2013: LOL, I don’t see how anyone could argue with such a well thought-out and insightful post.

      I’m sorry; but this is TED conversations, so put some thought into it.
    • thumb
      Jul 3 2013: wblakesx java
      I’m still not sure what you’re saying is BS.

      As a recovering-public-education-victim, I agree the US public school system is BS. And need to be replaced with a blend of voucher schools, local, national and international online classes.

      If you’re saying democratic government is BS, I have a few thoughts on that.

      USA has a republic government, and it was the Romans that first made that popular.
      Personally I have to question if we really have two party system anymore, by their actions the republican party seems to be a puppet party just there to keep the illusion of chose to prevent Egyptian style upraising.

      USA did bring the ideas of;
      *Privately owned land/property,
      *God given rights and not just government given rights (like freedom of religion),
      *All men are created equal, (yes yes it took us too long to realize ALL means ALL without exception for nationality or gender.)
      *and several economic/free market ideas.

      And it is those ideas America did bring to mankind that make me proud, but sadly America has lost its way. And thus the source of my conflicting feelings.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.