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Don Anderson

TEDCRED 50+

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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 5 2013: I live in Surinam, and on the first of juli, this year, the vice president of the Netherlands said that they were sorry for what happened during slavery in Surinam......after 150 years...It was no breaking news, because no one cared...The world is not waiting for sorry-feelers, the world is looking for people who care enough to " be the change you want to see in the world" (Ghandi) For you as an American it means that you are privileged the be an example, as countries like mine look up to you, learn from your ancesters and learn from their mistakes and the way they lived, but mostly learn from their norms and values....acts speak louder than words. Be proud of who you are, inspire other American to feel the same. I wish you a lot of inspiration and new vision / revalation about this issue.
    • Jul 5 2013: keep up your advantageous trade relations (under the gun of the imf) with elites who double their wealth every 7.4 years for every 10% advantage... while the disadvantaged wealth decreases similarly. Much easier to motivate 100 plebs with the Promise of promotion that maybe one will get while the immigrants to the usa and exiles from other countries are ecstatic on burger and fries. Tis Good to be The Empire. Who wants to stand up? Saudi democratic republicans...Bahraini tea party?
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        Jul 7 2013: Thx WBlakes, you know, i was an immigrant first from surinam to the netherlands, not for the burgers and fries but to study...after 20 years i moved back to surinam, now working as a full time volunteer on commynity projects with help and support from friends in the netherlands. I feel sorry that al lot of funds from IMF did not work out..but i am proud to be one of the few who try to make the best of everything they have...even if it is just a little bit. I can not help thousands, but I know for shure that for that one person i can make a diffrence. do you?
        • Jul 8 2013: Best wishes. I guess it's not easy. the last Surinamese(?) I spoke with was telling me how fast life was in the usa and how things were still slow there, that appeals to me. Me, i help where I can but my path is not the same as most people around me... there's a parable about a monkey saying to a fish, "You'll be safe Now!" as he put him in a tree. i'm afraid my advice would be dangerous for many... it's just i expected more at TED than simple shibboleths. I'm surrounded by cubans here, not very philosophic people for the most part, genocide in Guatemala... El Salvador, Nicaragua was materially supported by many here. I finally decided to study cuban history and have been astonished at how mendacious our immigrants are. Otoh, I can understand how many fleeing terrible hardship from home Love Love Love the usa, and hamburgers... and FOX 'news'. But they are not seeing things from a free, balanced, mature perspective. I reckon Holland has some skeletons in her closet too so maybe you can understand. Good luck again.
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        Jul 8 2013: i see your point, you see this all over the world...people suffering themself for a better live, in surinam we have lots of chineese immigrants, they work 24 hours a day for this better live. you know when you miss something terrible, like eatin' a delicious burger, is a dream come true when you have been supressed for years not to be able to eat what ever you wish for......that is also freedom. Climbing a boat for that big mac! So if you are willing to make hudge sacrifices to fullfill that wish, it is also freedom if you do so...after a while maybe you realise the meaningless value of that wish, but in that process you gained a lot of understanding and experiences about what realy means a lot to you....think of maslov.....you are a courages person.
        • Jul 8 2013: I've been wondering about your project in Surinam. There are so many pitfalls in trying to honestly and truly help, seems one needs to understand so much of life-economics, psychology, philosophy... deeply and broadly or risk doing real harm... even with everything it seems a gamble. You say you work with a project so hopefully there are wise people to support each other- I wish you the best, really do (both my parents were teachers so I have had a struggle balancing certain errrr, problems, high low, medium, good, bad cultures, lies misunderstandings etc etc; dad was greek, mom texas bible belt but liberal, school in uk. High ideals makes me seem snobby and impractical to some types, stupid to others and helpless for too many of the ones who ask for needed help. But I am serious and I have studied rather deeply). On a long shot... let me know about your work, i might have something to add to a team. Many usaers aren't far from dirt floored shacks though it can be unwise to Not pretend they are Succesful. Is there a way to do private messages here? I'll send you an email if so, or do you have a web site? Do you know of Danilo Dolci or Mondragon for instance? The problem of culture in the villages? And thanks.
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        Jul 8 2013: my email adres is jennifervanbraam@gmail.com, I don't know of Danillo Dolci or Mondragon. It is truly facinating to work with diffrent cultures, but i learned to accept them who they are...They spend money on hair extensions, nails and cellphone cards... while their children don't have a pen or writing notebook for school...the first thing I learned in my community: only children and disabeled people are depended...the rest chooses to be depended and that makes them realy poor people....
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      Jul 7 2013: Thanks for insight Jennifer,
      I have always believed in leading by example, and I fight to live up to being a good example.
      As to “as an American it means that you are privileged the be an example, as countries like mine”, I say it is our responsibility. American is going through its “dark-ages” since the 1950s, god willing it will end with the boomers. Your words give me encouragement to keep the pre-boomer American values alive in my heart and to pass them alone to the next generation.
      Again thanks.
      • Jul 8 2013: preboomer would be great depression, boom and crash, paying the russians to die fighting the nazis while the japs were spread out across asia and the islands till we scouped them w/ atomic weapons before the russians could assume their treaty rights there

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