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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?

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.

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    Jul 10 2013: G. B Shaw said that 'patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it' and if this has even an element of truth to it it boils down to something that looks a lot like pure egoism, and honestly since where you are born is a lottery it is all a little bit silly.

    I must say as an Irishman currently living in America I find it insanely ironic that American people can claim to be proud patriotic people and then also claim to be half Italian, German, Japanese or whatever, I've had more people tell me that they too are Irish because their great great great grandfather emigrated during the famine, whereas I was born and lived in Ireland for 28 years. So there's a sense of fracture in that most American's are looking to be something other than American because as you say it yourself America is such a melting pot!!

    And to be honest your other question is not much of a mystery either, society works. It has always worked, it helps us to achieve self preservation which is our ultimate aim as living animals. Society and social contracts help to fend of the state of nature that exists without it. A state of nature that is harsh, unpredictable and heartless and would devour us all a little bit easier than it already does.
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      Jul 11 2013: Thanks Eamonn; by seeing though your viewpoint, I now see what makes America different and what makes it work.

      Firstly: Where you’re born does put people on a fast track to patriotism, like preschool is to education. But does not lock you into or guaranties your patriotism to that place.

      “A conviction that this country/culture is superior to all others” BINGO! Now I think I got it.
      Commonly countries/cultures fear others countries/cultures may change theirs, whereas America seeks and impresses’ other cultures to add them to our multi-culture blend. True they will go through a crowd-source review, and often only parts will be widely accepted.

      Personally I’m both American and a 100% pure blood European mutt, and embrace them all. (Plus those I have no DNA tie to) for example I embrace chi and yin yang, even though I have no Asian DNA.

      America works because we embrace other cultures influence, instead of fearing them.

      P.S. Eamonn, I’m wondering if you found you had some English or Scandinavian/Viking DNA, how would you feel?

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