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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 24 2013: America works because it has a common language: money. Whether you are a recently arrived Persian immigrant or a native born American with African ancestry money allows you communicate clearly. Superficial? Yes! Materialistic? Of course. Equalizing and fair for all? I believe so. The concept of 'world peace through world trade' applies for local trade within the US. In a diverse country such as this, doing business with people of other faiths and nationalities teaches you more about ethics and brotherhood then sermons and political ideologies. Was I treated fairly? Did the person do what he or she said they would do? If they did, relations will be warm and cordial and America will roll on. If there is a downside to all of this it is that America doesn't know what to do with something that can't be sold or is somehow useful. Spirit aside from organized religion, doesn't play too well in the mass American culture. But maybe it's enough to get along with people who are different. I think that is amazing in itself.
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      Jul 24 2013: World trade sounds virtuous as long as you are the benefactor. The slave trade did a lot of damage. Trade "winners" get to write the narrative for history and economic books. If you don't have a competitive advantage or a resource to exploit in trade you are screwed.

      I just wonder what the World would be like if we nurtured our specie instead of endlessly battling ourselves.

      What we have done to ourselves over thousands of years we wouldn't do to our pets. With humans it's fight and winner take all.

      Half of the Worlds population is starving and the other half is overweight. Kudos, World trade.
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      Jul 24 2013: “America works because it has a common language: money.”

      It was a huge improvement over what was done before, with poverty being the common language and money being the language for only the ruling class.
      I would not say it’s the only reason America works, but it’s certainly in the 10 top reasons.

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