Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reflection #4

During our discussion last Thursday, I left the classroom pondering Professor Jackson’s statement of the world being divided into an “us” group and a “them” group. There’s America as the ‘advanced’ nation who, in essence, paves the road to success for the “them” countries. We see ourselves as the first modern nation to utilize democracy and make it work while the others stagger on in hopes of becoming like us. We have the largest and most powerful military and have bases all around the world to keep an eye on the farthest corners of the world. Yet, despite all of this, I feel it’s important to point out the irony that we really aren’t the “us” but in actuality, a part of “them.” To begin with, to say one is a pure American is a debatable statement. We are all foreigners on this land (except for the Native Americans) and our society is as mix of preexisting cultures and beliefs. Is there really anything original in America that has not been previously implemented? The Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Muslim, Jewish and Christian immigrants have all lent their flavors and spices to our land. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all. In fact, it could be quite useful in international relations. But, because this is the case, it is important for us to realize where we stand culturally. Furthermore, I wish we would realize how degrading and in a sense, racist, we are in perceiving the world from an “us” “them” perspective. A recent example of this was illuminated to me upon my close friend’s return from Burma. She spent half a year in Burma and Nepal as a devout Buddhist nun. Like her Burmese sisters, she shaved her head and meditated for hours upon hours. But despite all of this, the people around her were still slightly hesitant. They were so used to the facade of superiority the US is so commonly associated with that it stunted her. Typically, not many Americans are found at this reserved monastery in the mountains. Because she, an American, was there, the natives instantly felt a sense of unease. I am quite sure in stating this was not due to the fact that she was just any foreigner, but in fact, an American. Most of us, whether we realize it or not, carry around a set of expectations and implications.Therefore, I hope for America’s sake that we stop elevating ourselves, whether explicitly or implicitly, and understand that there is no such thing as a ‘superior’ nation, culturally.

1 comment:

  1. "We are all foreigners on this land (except for the Native Americans) and our society is as mix of preexisting cultures and beliefs."

    Elana I completely agree with you in this. I have always wondered whether the United States have its own unique culture and for the most part, it does not. Unlike all other countries, the United States has a culture that is like no other, a mix of cultures from all over the world, hence the "melting pot". This is not to say, that the culture in the United States is not special. On the contrary, the United States allows for an acceptance and understanding of other cultures. We perceive other countries as "them", but at the same time they perceive us the same way.