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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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    Jul 8 2013: Given America = The United States: Being American means one is a citizen of the United States .. that is all.

    There is no "American culture."

    The US Constitution establishes an open social order. One may be happy to know this simply because it allows anyone, any culture, any religion, any association to exist side by side with any other.

    A social order (system), like this, requires much energy to maintain. When that energy goes away the system will become disorganized, chaotic and thus gone.

    1) Being American is not based on ancestors. We are individuals.
    2) The structure/system provided by the US Constitution is not sustainable.
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      Jul 9 2013: @Bob Charles
      . . . oops! I missed #2) above: "The structure/system provided by the US Constitution is not sustainable." It has worked for over 200 years! But the U.S. Constitution is not unique in the world. There are many other documents with similar import.

      And it takes a whole lot more than just the U.S. Constitution to establish social order and the common 'open' liberties that we take for granted. If you don't believe me, ask any 1st or 2nd year law student!
      • Jul 13 2013: Quite dead documents. They're often ignored or interpreted away.

        Right to free speech? Not if it can even remotely be considered "national interest". We've seen recent cases of reviving antiquated regulations just to curb it.
        Right to self-organise? Not if you don't register and that's controlled by politician's whim.
        Right to protest? Tell that to the police instigators or troops sent against protests, even peaceful ones.
        Right to privacy? Laughable, let's remove adresses, take all other data and say it's "private", as practiced by the NSA and some other agencies.

        Right to arms is at least still there and this one hasn't really made USA a better place either.

        Same story everywhere in most, or perhaps all constitutional, I mean bureaucratical countries.
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          Jul 13 2013: True in many if not most of the nations on the Earth.

          As to the U.S.A. itself, I stand by my positive assertions as to human rights & legally protected personal liberties.

          These concepts are worthy of export. These ideas really are "Ideas worth spreading . . . " But when the U.S.A. does this - even via diplomacy, people scream "CIA skulduggery!" or "U.S. Colonialism!"

          Some days you just can't win!

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