TED Conversations

Don Anderson

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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

+8
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 8 2013: To Don Anderson:

    Among other things there is no merit in being proud or not to one's accident of birth--it is what it is.
    The question should be what each one of us contributed to making this USA or THIS WORLD a better place?.
    Certainly ancestry and or family heritage can come with intrinsic advantages or disadvantages under a given moment in history.But one's circumstances do not necessarily completely define the person one becomes to be.

    In today's America and for some good time earlier WE ,THE PEOPLE ( that is to say the general citizenry) have been sidelines by the powers that be.yes; one can vote and exercise some fundamental political and legal rights.But WE THE PEOPLE do not determine our political life.WE do not own THE FEDERAL RESERVE; we do not have any say in the matters pertaining to THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (as President Eisenhower indicated in his last speech before leaving office ). We do not control why and how we go to foreign wars; financial contributions to congressman reelections from and by the major corporations overwhelm the political debate on any issue of substance.

    So; in essence it does not matter what your ancestry or class is unless it happens to be in the UPPER UPPER HIGH CLASS of American society.
    • thumb
      Jul 8 2013: Emotional feelings of pride, sham, embarrassment, etc. go far beyond merit or logic.
      People struggle with their feelings over childhood abuse, handicaps, health issues, and many other reasons, even though they are things beyond their control.
      It part of being human and like any emotion needs to be embraced to come to terms with them and not suppressed.
      • Jul 8 2013: Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
        The proper study of Mankind is Man.
        Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
        A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
        With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
        With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
        He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
        In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
        In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
        Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
        Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
        Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
        Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
        Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;
        Created half to rise and half to fall;
        Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
        Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
        The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

        Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
        Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
        Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
        Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
        Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
        To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
        Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
        And quitting sense call imitating God;
        As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
        And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
        Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
        Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
        • thumb
          Jul 9 2013: Quoting here from Wikipedia: An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1734. It is a rationalistic effort to use philosophy in order to "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l.16), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759).[1] More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.

          I agree less with the Wikipedia author, & more with the text authored by Alexander Pope, itself.

          As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
          And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
          Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
          Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
      • Jul 10 2013: the Essay, 30 pgs: http://www.english.gsu.edu/~mbrown/Pope/essaymanpope.pdf

        Try afew lines here and there over several days, til you've read afew pages, and you will likely read much more. In early reading I found the rhyming abit annoying but now find the work wonderful on the small scale as well as the large. He's the little (4 and a half feet) Shakespere. You will find many saying you are familiar with since they are classic. Buena suerte

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.