Whitney Njiru

Student, Maseno University

This conversation is closed.

What is the most overstated / understated topic from or about your country.

The TED community encompasses all from around the world from Canada to Ghana, Kenya to Tuvalu. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Governments and corporations with voices try and portray the best of the country sometimes exaggerating while the main issues swept under the carpet.
But who knows their country better than the common man, and who is a better critic than an well-exposed person.
Please share on what you think is your country's best or worst ideals.

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    Dec 6 2011: Mexico
    Worst: The drug cartels
    Best: Amazing culture
  • Dec 5 2011: The most overstated topic is "We need to care for those who can't care for themselves."
    We need to focus on personal accountability. That perspective has been lost in the United States over the past 30 years. It is our greatest weakness, and the greatest obstacle to future success.
    • Dec 6 2011: Wow, I was going to say that! ( just too afraid to) My country depends on the government. It is a sad fact. The government is leading the sheep, to the slaughter house. All levels of income, are letting them. ( except for the 1 %) Hey Aon, our greatest weakness, is are own weakness. :)
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      Dec 6 2011: I would submit Aon, that those bankers and the top 1% of America have had a license to steal America's future and the American dream out from under the rest because of the concept that everyone else is just waiting for a hand out and that no one is assuming personal responsibility. I cannot imagine how the poor and the middle class of America have been convinced to be hard hearted against their own self interests and the against the evidence of their own hearts that helping one another is a very good thing. It is time to put paranoia about 'socialism' back in the boogie man box and opt for a caring society that most of the world's societies that are rated as the 'best places in the world to live' have adopted.
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        Dec 10 2011: Debra,
        Well, yes, the "best places in the world to live" have adopted socialism, usually with a mixed market economy. But such evaluations select certain criteria and leave out others. Norway, where I'm currently located, is one such society. Hardly anyone is poor here, and that rightly scores high. A drawback, however, is the high level of governmental regulation that one puts up with in such a socialist society. Dealing with the anonymous power of the bureaucracy leads to a lot of Kafkaesque frustration that doesn't make it into these evaluations.

        In the U.S., on the other hand, the lack of structure has contributed to making entrepreneurism and innovation easier, as the past hundred years have demonstrated. It's impossible to imagine the modern world without the innovations that have originated in the U.S. The U.S., however, has a relatively high level of poverty, a large part of which is associated with illegal immigrants. These number about 13 million according to estimates I've read, and continue to arrive at up to a million per year. All these are poor, and constitute a considerable stress on the U.S. social welfare systems, which are mostly run by the individual states. There would likely be an even greater immigration stress if the U.S. were more socialistic, guaranteeing more benefits.

        I'm looking forward to a development of U.S. society that results in a new blend of the spirit of innovation that we enjoy in the U.S. and the care for our fellow citizens that is more in evidence here in Norway, without the bureaucratic overregulation of socialism. I think we need a new "Adam Smith" who can visualize a (practical!) economic system that rewards cooperative as well as competitive work, that makes it impossible to gamble with "other people's money," and that provides sufficient assistance to help the unfortunate bootstrap themselves.
        Cheers, Paul
        www.blueridgejournal.com
    • Dec 7 2011: I agree that it is necessary for corporations and members of the upper class to take individual responsibility for their actions. However, this does not address the fundamental societal issues facing minorities and those of the lower class. The United States has the idea that one is responsible for their own successes/failures, however, people who will not have access to education, computers, self-esteem and even food/shelter cannot make it. If the people who hold these negative connotations and prejudices take individual responsibility for the repression of the underdogs, things would be more equal and idealistic.

      As far as environmental issues.. There is a growing idea that we as everyday citizens need to watch our energy consumption, water waste, fuel emissions, etc. This is absolutely correct- however, until corporations address and make changes regarding the issues, the environment will continue to be destroyed. The upper class has more of control over the future of our society and it needs to be addressed way before the people struggling to get by need to analyze and criticize their lifestyles.

      THEREFORE, I conclude that the most overstated (and false) topic about America is that it is a place where success is obtained solely by efforts. This idea, although it sounds utopian, is actually one of the easiest ways to blame the helpless for their failures and allow upper class individuals to be credited power that they may not have worked for.
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    Dec 4 2011: America's best: The compassion and generosity of its people.
    America's worst: Its government (or misgovernment).
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      Dec 4 2011: I would say that's applicable to every nation under the sun..
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    Dec 2 2011: England's best ideal: History
    England's worst ideal: History
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    Dec 16 2011: Germany:
    Overstated: that we have the best working economy in Europe with all the cars and other machines and high tech industrie and so on exporting so much that we soon won't be able to find people to buy it.
    Understated: that we achieved this through lowering our peoples life standards significantly.the middle class is bleeding out
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      Dec 16 2011: Hi Nikolas, nice. It's interesting how the middle class tends to get overlooked by all forces, government, initiatives by NGOs etc. This is inspite of the fact that they are the drivers of the economy. they own most of the small businesses and adhere to tax rules in a bid not to get into trouble. They do not look for loop holes or utilize tax rebates etc. A lot needs to be done for the middle class if a country is to successfully (ethically) flourish.
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    Dec 6 2011: Okay I get why Americans are the loudest to cry about their government. I live in Vietnam, fyi it's a communist country.

    Here you go.
    Most overstated topics: Ha Long Bay, abundance of natural resources. The petroleum sector contributes practically 25% of GDP -- and they take pride in exporting crude oil. It's dangerous to define "wealth" that way.
    Understated: freedom of speech (obviously, "understated topic"). Facebook got blocked here. Wondering if anyone from China here want to speak.
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      Dec 10 2011: China
      overstated topics:harmony and the people's livelihood
      understated topics:economic system
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    Dec 3 2011: In Canada, I am convinced that the most overstated topic is HOCKEY!
    The most understated topic is leadership in human rights.
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      Dec 4 2011: I strongly believe that sports as a great social importance as it creates a strong link between communities and gives a form of hope to lots of kids.

      I remember after the soccer World Cup in 1998, there was almost no racial issues for...a few month. Even with the lack of education of most professional players, sports are still based on strong values such as total dedication (making it to the pro requires a tremendous amount of work) and abnegation.
      Don’t you think so?
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        Dec 6 2011: Hello Louis.While I agree that sports have many advantages, I am particularly worried about some of the social norms and mores that are communicated in sports. In hockey in Canada (I speak as a mother of 4 sons who played) aggression is celebrated and fist fighting is 'part of the game'. I am not convinced that this is socially advantageous as we celebrate sports in general. Consider the concept from baseball of sliding into second base with your cleats up to 'take out the second baseman' as a strategy against a double play. Some sports build more character than others.
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    Dec 3 2011: In America, money. It is given way to much importance in our lives and causes us to harm the rest of the world
    • Dec 4 2011: I would have to agree. I also live in the United States and having a lot of money seems to be thought of as the ultimate goal according to society. I wish there were other priorities instilled in our citizens and especially our children.
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    Dec 11 2011: Overstated: Our freedom, we lack sovereign rule of our personal choices. I do not have the right to diagnose my own ailments and prescribe my own treatment. Although, I believe I am quite capable and on the other hand, I lack confidence in the medical field...I know 50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class!

    Understated: The power and capaclity for this population to change all that they desire. The power and capacity is great, we fall short in the motivation and ability.
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      Dec 16 2011: Knowledge is Power. The difference between a doctor and I is the ability to deduce an ailment from symptoms.
      but remember with more power comes more responsibilities (Ben Parker, Spiderman.)
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        Dec 16 2011: I understand. Many doctors have more knowledge than their patients. I have the ability to deduce my ailments. Ultimately, I know what is better for me than anyone else, including my doctor, if I had one. I also believe this should be my decision. Do I want to trust a doctor, or trust myself, after all, it is my body, my life, my ailment. When in history did this occur? There was a time when we all diagnosed our own ailments and decided on our own remedies. When did we give up this sovereign rule and right of our personal lives? It is fine with me if others wish to attend the care of a physician, I desire the choice to be mine, that's all.
        thanks for listening and sharing, Whitney
  • Dec 10 2011: Well In Estonia
    I see that we do not have the middle class -in here there are rich people(10-20%) and poor people(the rest of them) no middle class. The second thing is that we think only - what is now, no future thinking. Third here is no Estonians it means maybe 800.000 are the 100% Estonians but others are not ( population is 1,3 milj people) -in here You have to tolerant everyone-it will be good if You are not Estonian or hetero. The worse is that we do not respect older people/young Mothers-our increase is down, the taxes is high, so no operating activities without science of law. Medical help is not for everyone-good doctors are working outside of Estonia because low salary, nurses are left (we have more Russian nurses-for patient it means You have to understand Russian language, even when You are kid).So it is sad... we have many people without work .....
    +Nature,cheap work power/low salary, many good educated brains, iT-is very good, well after all I think Estonia it self tells all-if You have been here You will be back-this place has something .... we have good military men, we have many very famous musicians/painters/sportsmen who changed the world thinking (for ex Wiiralt,Pärt, Tüür, Veerpalu, Navitrolla and others), in every km2 there are some gold-brain, so after all I think it is good to live in Estonia and it is normal that in the beginning all countries had the same problems what we do have now so I am optimistic :)
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      Dec 16 2011: it is a sad state when the gap between the haves and the havenots is that wide. A middle class is a major fueling component for a country. I think our founding fathers had an idea of DEMOCRACY but did not understand how the wheels worked. The brain drain is bad. If i may ask, is the salary for doctors low because its paid for by the government or has the medical industry been privatized.
      At least your country has an established and proud culture.
      Stay optimistic and be the change you want.
  • Dec 10 2011: Russia
    Best: great culture, kind and generous people, big country/ butifull architecture.
    worst: about 42 percent of young people want to live in another country according to the survey.
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      Dec 16 2011: Irina,
      I love your country's culture, a rich past, vast stories to exploit and beautiful landscapes.
      Its bad when the youths are thinking of leaving a country because they will not feel a drive to invest in it and if they do not, no one(foreign) will. What do you think should be done to change this?
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    Dec 9 2011: China
    overstated topics:harmony and the people's livelihood
    understated topics:economic system
  • Dec 9 2011: United States-
    Overstated: Freedom
    Understated: Vulgarity of many citizens
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    Dec 9 2011: Serbia:
    Overstated: Everyone is bad and poor in Serbia
    Understated: History
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      Dec 16 2011: Agree. From what I learned in my childhood I made the assumption, that everything in europes east and south-east was just poor former sovjet states with lot's of corruption, criminals and war. Not that I cared enough to ask my parents about it and history wasn't quite my favourite class... But today I sometimes wonder what Europe would look like had it not been for the two world wars...
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      Dec 16 2011: the generalization issue. It is a really bad trait. Somehow I learnt very early not to judge from first impressions. I would recommend Chimamanda's TED Talk "The Dangers of a Single Story" http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

      Nikolas' question is very interesting. "what Europe would look like had it not been for the two world wars..."
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        Dec 16 2011: And we also shouldn't forget about the ethnically motivated Balkan Wars and the developments during the cold war
  • Dec 9 2011: About Iran:
    Overstated:suppression and suffocation
    Understated:lots of developments and freedoms that we should have
  • Dec 6 2011: Philippines
    overstated topic: are we to be won over by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo just because she is sick?! permanent answer NO (please try her in court)...and david beckhams football stint here in manila.
    understated topic: why is there no significant increase in government spending for Education when we are afterall proud to say that the youth is the hope of our country.
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    Dec 4 2011: For Morocco:
    - Most overstated: social image
    - Understated: political subject
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    Dec 4 2011: i would say the idea that ireland is fullof drunken fools is one of the most common things said about ireland in a joking kind of way..it is said about many countries i suppose. i think this is an understatement.... it is very much the extreme of that parody...perhaps it is so all over the world...but it is impossible to exaggerate such a terrible thing into a joke..it is tamed down into a joke... but it is no joke when so many of our men are useless and despairing they cant help to raise their children they cant participate in society their only relation to people is through alchohol sometimes they dont see people unless ther eis a common achohol goal..families where they never do anything together but have a pint ..on pay day they are in the pub and there is no money left for food for the rest of the week.... thier children go without because they have a mentality all caught up in drink and misery and self debocation...they say they ar ealwasy poor they cant buy anything for themselves they just work and drink losing jobs all teh time taking a long too long time to go through education..their minds are useless for conversations which are consructive or productive or usefull to their fellow man although sometime sthey can be appreciated as a work of art..they say he is a character....but apart from the picture he goes home alone and sits mindbent heart breaking andnoone says boo..it is normal it is the pink elephant inthe room.
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    Dec 2 2011: in case of my country is Enterprenuership and ICT
  • Dec 2 2011: About Afghanistan:
    Overstated conflicts;
    Understated so many developments