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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 23 2013: First off, there is no certain definition of Americanism. We are citizens of a country that mounted the first great revolution of the modern era. Other than the fact that we inhabit this country, there is no set definition but only what we individually perceive ourselves to be. It can be argued that there are states with much more freedom and liberty, countries in which it is far easier to climb the socio-economic ladder. Our formula for governance is but one example in a sea of many. However, the spirit through which we exist is one that does not work well for many people. Our wealth distribution is anything but equal and even the opportunities for our citizens to make something of themselves is reigned in by the immense scope of Capital to which our government has catered to since the days of Alexander Hamilton. We are far from a perfect society, but we are perhaps the first country to recognize the need to protect ourselves from government (though we fail to protect ourselves from the hoarders of Capital). Thus we set the example of individual freedom for the majority of the developed and developing world.

    Secondly, what makes it work is what makes anything work. We happen to have a mass of resources available to us and the manpower to extract them and shift into the world's largest economy. Every developed nation on Earth can claim that their system works and there are a few that I believe work better than ours, but we hold a sense of national pride, which has been instilled in us from birth so that every time we see an American Flag or a member of our Armed Forces in uniform we are brought back to the line: WE the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and Secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. We are not perfect, but I believe the best in every American man, woman, and child. Maybe I'm a sucker.

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