Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Super America

What makes the US a powerful and a successful country? Some people would argue that America had many opportunities and it ceased them and benefited from them such as WW II when it produced and sold weapons and geared its industry to build most of the destroyed parts of Europe and then made a huge amount of money out of that. This argument is definitely true to a point. However, the American character also has played a role.

First, American success is built on lot of hard work by a lot of different people. These people are crazy about work and work to make money and build success. Many people here have more than one job. I was talking to the maid in this campus this morning and she told me that she’s got another job and that her daughter has got two, too. There is usually more than one worker in the same household, as in the case of this lady. This lady likes her two jobs, takes them seriously and does them efficiently. So do most Americans. Also, Americans bear with their jobs, at least, if they don’t like them and do them well and perfectly. I have noticed their work ethic includes: responsibility, reliability, accountability, and honesty. Even the American dream of success, fame and wealth is based on hard work and thrift. American system of education, as well, is a school-to-work program. Kids go to school to be prepared for a job, for a future, for the “Almighty Greenback”. For them, you’re never too old or too young to work. I’ve seen people as old as my granddad work and kids as young as my daughter make money by the sweat of their brow. I liked the fifteen year old boy on the
19Actionnews TV channel this morning who ceased the opportunity of class cancellation to clear the snow outside houses to make money “to buy shoes and clothes” as he said. It’s all work and little play that makes America a super country.

Secondly, linked to hard-work is time, and “time is money.” Americans value time and have great respect for it. It surprises us to see them eat on their way to work, while driving, on the bus… They eat while working and work while eating. Students bring food and drinks to the classroom because they have no time to waste - but they have freedom. They eat on the go because work and business are before pleasure. They “don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today” because they believe in continuous productivity and perpetual activity. They are very conscious of time and view punctuality as extremely important especially in business settings because they usually have other fish to fry. For them, good time is always used or saved, but not wasted or killed.

Thirdly, Americans are pragmatic, practical, and realistic people who rely on a common sense approach to life. They put ideas philosophies, and theories into action and use and they would try every trick in the book to make them work. Even the American 'dream' is not a sleep dream with all the thoughts and images and emotions. It is all about success, hard-work, and wealth. Their pragmatism changed the face of this country in record time and changed the face of the Earth as well. America is a success and achievement-oriented country whose citizens are always putting ideas into action and whose actions, today, speak louder than words. They are not only pragmatic but also persevering and “ready to fight fifty years to win” as Benjamin Franklin said, so as to get to the end-goal.

Fourthly, Americans are very informal, casual, and hate protocol and titles. Even those with PH Ds here in Kent State University urge their students to call them by their first names and so do bosses with their employees. Yet, it’s their dress informality that I favor best because I have always believed in the saying that, “l’habit ne fait pas le moine.” This means that clothes are deceiving or something like "you can't judge a book by its cover". I have noticed that Americans look you in the eyes when they talk to you and do not look at your washed jeans, or casual baggy trousers, or open-necked shirt. Nice external appearances mean nothing if a person’s head is just an empty can. Casual clothes help people work more comfortably and help others feel comfortable to approach you. Informality is also linked to to the value of equality which is the foundation of American democracy and stressed by the American Declaration of independence that “all men are created equal.” Needless to say, as well, that prejudice and discrimination often arise from difference in appearance, and clothes are part of the appearance. Linked with informality, also, is the value of freedom; freedom to choose your way of life, your clothes, your hairstyle…There is no strict dress code and everyone is free to choose their attire.

Last but not least, Americans are positively patriotic. I say positively because they show their patriotism spontaneously without being forced to do so. This is one of the benefits of a democracy. I have seen the Stars and Stripes wave above individual houses, patriotic neon flags in workplaces, patriotic pins prominently displayed people’s clothes and bags, patriotic stickers on people's cars that read "Proud to be American" or "God Bless America" etc…But Americans rarely brag about their country when they talk to you; they prefer to show their patriotism by working hard for it.

There is, of course, always an exception to the general truth because there are always people there who do not realize how fortunate they are to be born as Americans. However, as Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure. .”

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