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Don Anderson

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

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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.


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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

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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.
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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.

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  • Jul 7 2013: Wow, Don, this conversation hits home for me.

    I am an ex-patriot, and a "third culture kid". i was born in the States and moved to Holland when I was 15. When Holland changed the law to abolish dual-nationality, I renounced my American nationality to remain in Holland, to be near my family, and to continue living in the country I had become an adult in, where I knew my way around, where I felt I had the best chances of survival.

    Now, let me stress, I have never felt fully at home here. But I have never felt truly at home in America either. Have a Dutch passport that says I was born in Henrietta, NY. I often say, "You can take the girl out of America, but you can't take America out of the girl", because being American to me, is pretty hard to dilute with other cultures. It remains prominent, even after more than 20 years, when I speak English, I do so with an American accent, which always gives me away...

    I often referred to my life as "before" and "after" I moved to Europe, and clung onto the "terminally unique" idiosyncrasy of being a Third Culture Kid as a desperate attempt to form an identity, other than being 'just American', as if that wasn't enough to encompass who I really was. Silly, in retrospect. But for me, it was how to fit in as a teenager in another country. I didn't want to be different!

    I think I am now more American than I have ever been, after living in Holland for more than 20 years, which is ironically longer than I ever lived in America. Accepting my roots, understanding my heritage and respecting the country where I was born took time, effort, and perspective. After years of 'hiding' my nationality, I have finally embraced it.
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      Jul 8 2013: I’m 50ish and as this thread indicates I’m just at the start of my journey to understand my heritage and its meaning in my life. I understand the feeling “I have never felt fully at home here”, for I listen to the news and others-I-know and I feel the same way. And yet I can drive a few hours into farmland and small-towns and feel right at home.
      We never loss the culture of our informative years: so it’s not silly at all, and I say embrace your uniqueness. I fought many of my unique experiences in life, and found embracing my own uniqueness has made my life journey more rewarding and meaningful.

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