Understanding American culture

Published 9:53 pm Monday, May 1, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

Americans live within a very different culture than people in other nations. It is hard for us to view our culture, because we are born into it. It has existed around us all our lives.  It existed around our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents for generations. Americans understanding our culture would be like a fish understanding water.

It is easier for people who grew up in different nations to understand American culture and take greater advantage of the opportunities available for education, employment and wealth. Because of the difficulties involved with viewing and understanding our culture, some Americans do not take advantage of same opportunities.

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How is the American culture different from other nations? A major factor involves differences in our ideals and values relating to diversity and freedom.

Many think of diversity as a racial issue, but it involves people of different ethnicities. There exist a variety of ethnicities among people having the same skin color. For example, a white Southern redneck is a great deal different from a white California hippie or a white New York City strap hanger (a person who rides the subway and has never been west of the Hudson River).

In many nations, children are born into an ethnicity, and their path in life is predetermined through law or custom. A child born in India to a poor family will have few, if any, opportunities to be other than poor all his or her life. A child born into an oligarch’s family in India will live a life of opportunities for education, employment and wealth. The same is true in most nations in the world.

In other nations, there is hatred and violence against people of other ethnicities. This can be seen in the recent bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt. Egyptian Coptic Christians and Muslim all have the same skin color. The hatred among Muslims against Christian’s ethnicity is the difference.

Egyptian Coptic Christians are restricted to the lowest levels of society. They can only live in the worst areas of towns and are restricted to being garbage collectors that sort through trash for items to eat or sell. Educational opportunities are not provided for their children.

In American culture, people of different ethnicities are not restricted in terms of opportunities.  We are not perfect in this regard, but we provide greater opportunities for our people than many other nations provide for their people.

Unfortunately, some Americans focus only on the imperfections of American society and do not take advantage of the opportunities foreign immigrants capitalize upon. For example, many from India emigrate here, start businesses and live much better lives than is possible if they had stayed in India.

These people do much better than the Americans who do not take advantage of the same available opportunities.

Americans who are not doing well in our society might study how people that had few opportunities in their home nations are able to thrive here.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.