I am a human being, not an American, nor a Westerner, not even a civilian. I refuse to be labeled in such ways, specifically the first. And if I were an American, I would not be proud to be one.
I'm not saying this is a terrible place to live, or that everyone who considers him or herself an American is my enemy. Though I urge you all to reconsider.
Internationally, being an American has a negative stigma. There are bad AND good reasons for this. We fail to own up to them all. Instead we just discount the bad reasons and throw it back in the faces of said accusers. We are cowards, not to mention idiots.
We don't practice what we preach. It's a strange cultural thing I guess. Our norms and mores, rules and laws, and even some traditions are completely out of whack with "acceptable" and "unacceptable" behavior.
Our arrogance is ridiculous. Our collective ego is so big that it extends up into Canada and down to Mexico. We're the all-knowing Americans. Like we need the rest of the world to survive! We have WalMart, please! And a great big military.
Speaking of which; War, good god y'all, what is it good for?
When a little kid hits another kid, he is scolded by Mommy or Daddy and asked to apologize. In school if you get in a fight, you're punished, severely. You might even have to go to see a "conflict manager" or something of the like, to straighten out your issues. Don't even get me started on violence in the workplace. A co-worker shoots up the office, the nation reacts, wondering just what was wrong with this person? Who could be so screwed up? Why?
Bottom line: violence is a terrible thing, and we all know it. It's primal behavior, instinctual (hence the kids hitting each other) but we are humans, we've evolved (or magically stemmed from two people in a garden with a snake), we are intelligent enough to know that there are more civil ways to solve our differences. Oh wait, that is with other Americans. I mean, cross the border and if somebody steps on your toe you have every right to slaughter them, kidnap their children, rape their spouses, and if you're up for it, burn their village to the ground. Let freedom ring! Isn't "spreading democracy" grand?
If I moved to France, I would not want to be called French; Africa, not African; India, not Indian. I wouldn't even wanted to be called "Antarctic," and that's too bad because how badass would that be? I am part of a society that includes all people, form every region, culture and walk of life. I run across very few people I can not get along with, mostly because I hold no prejudices, or try my best not to at least.
So, Americans: Get off your high horses and spend some time down on Earth for a change. Yes, Earth, that round planet-thingy we share with more than just the Caribbean. (I know! There are other cool places to go on vacation, can you believe it?)
Oh, and word to your mother: You can't be proud to be something you were born into. Stop taking pride in things like your last name. Pride is a sick bastard. He fucks you up good. If taken in very small doses for the right reasons, it can be healthy for you, but it's best left to the professionals. Instead, be modest and compassionate. Ask: not what your [country/family/society/religion/houseplant] can do for me, but what I can do for my [country/family/society/religion/houseplant]. Yes, it's called karma. The favor we be returned, AND it will make you feel good inside.
Meditate on the following:
1) The last time you were selfish (if you can't remember you're either a saint or have selective memory). Think about who you hurt, or simply let down. Maybe it was yourself. Maybe it was just the universe. Apologize to who you have hurt or let down; first in your meditation, until you feel good enough about it to do so in person. Think about why you were selfish. Understand what it means to be selfish. Now understand selflessness. Try to be as selfless as you can next time you have the urge to be selfish. Help others first and you will be helped. Maintain optimism.
2) Apathy. Not for yourself, but for society, politics, and general issues regarding other people. Think, if you can, about the most underrepresented group in the world, whether it be a religion, a nation, a non-for-profit. Empathize with those individuals, not just the group, but the individuals who suffer from lack of representation. Get inside them, feel their pain, truly understand as best you can. Now be compassionate. You don't just want to care, you care. You want to help them. Reward is of no concern, you just have the will to ease their pain, as a fellow human being. Now relax, bring yourself back to reality, and write down your thoughts. Write a list of ten things you can do tomorrow to help people. Then do it. We'll talk more about this later.
3) You've done a lot of work. Take some time to relax, breathe deep and think about anything you want. Picture your ideal vacation spot and let your senses take over. Enjoy!
Thank you for reading this entry. It was an important one to me. You're smarter than I thought!