Change

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Turning Over New Leaf

Friday, July 15, 2011

Identity Theft of a Nation

who are we

Identity Theft of a Nation

I am old enough to remember when the citizens of the United States were called Americans. They came in all shapes and sizes. Their ancestors immigrated from virtually every country in the world. Americans were proud of their heritage. They bragged about their various ethnicities and national origins. They believed George Washington deserved to have his portrait honor the one dollar bill. 

There was a period in my lifetime that people could describe an American. We had traits. Some were good, and some not so good. We squabbled over politics, that is, the two political parties argued over the best way to serve the citizens of our nation. With our election process, the parties took turns trying.

Most of all, I remember when there was a deep sense of pride in our country. Our parents liberated the world from oppression and returned home proud of America and its allies. They vowed to rebuild the birth places of our foes, restore their pride in their own nations, and make new friends along the way. One had the ability to describe the members of the Greatest Generation. They stood out. They were special. They possessed qualities the world could identify. The farmer from Iowa, the doctor from Chicago, the plumber from Omaha, and the accountant from LA had something in common. I’m not sure what it was, but they had it.

I have no interest in political discussion, because it fosters no purpose. I would like to know, however, who we are as a people. What are we? Who are we? I fear that unless we are able to re-identify ourselves as a nation, there will be those who will stop asking who and what we are, but why we are. 

Forget the stone throwing here. Leave politics out of the equation. Can we describe ourselves in a favorable light? Who are we? Can we name five POSITIVE traits of the American people that bind us as a nation?


27 comments:

  1. JJ: I definitely see your point... sad to say, I for one CAN NOT find 5 traits that characterize us, as a whole in a positive way. Granted there are individuals that fit the term American.. The traits that I can mention such as : integrity, accountability, compassion/altruism, a sense of honor, perserverance. Those are the traits that would fill the shoes of being an American. This is an interesting topic that you bring up and yes, politics need to be put aside... I think also technology has taken over and people have forgotten what truly is important..Greed and self centeredness has taken over... It seems when there has been a tragedy, it is in the news for awhile and then quickly dismissed to go on to another tragedy... I bet the people in Japan are quickly forgotten just like the people in Katrina... 9/11 seems to still be key in people's mind's because of the date- makes me wonder if anyone is still concerned about the people who were in the midst of that tragedy- their health both physical and mental. The list could go on...

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  2. As an european foreigner, when a refer to American people, I use to say that you are honest, free, efficient, hard workers, very friendly and informal. I could add a lot more of characteristics, but these simple ones are among those that explain why I like Americans and the USA so much!

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  3. KBF: I thought this post might get similar responses. I am anxious to learn if others feel very differently.

    FanaticoUm: Your comments are music to the ears of an American.

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  4. I am not an American so I will comment on the positive traits of the Australian people. After the recent floods & cyclones, the mateship of Aussies became stronger. We united in the face of tragedy. Strangers helping strangers, opening their doors, their hearts & their wallets to others in their hours of need.
    So 5 traits of the Australian people are unity, acceptance, mateship, patriotism & for most the spirit of the ANZAC

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  5. I agree with you on FanaticUm's comments, JJ.

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  6. I've not been to America but have had the pleasure of getting to know many Americans here in blogger land & what i have discovered is about Americans is the great comradeship with others, including myself and this to me is a wonderful quality/trait to possess.

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  7. Suze: Yes. It is about time. There are so many good American traits, and we should not forget or ignore them. In fact, if our leaders focused on them, our nation would enjoy the benefits.

    Katherine: What you call mateship is important to us as well. I also believe we share other similar traits with the Aussies.

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  8. @Katherine: I remember when we had the 1994 Northridge earthquake.. Neighbors who did not have kids like the rest of us had never talked to the ones w/kids.. that early morning brought them out and we all talked to them... Funny, how kids link us to one another? The couples who did not have kids or were past the age of having children, went about their business and we who had kids were too wrapped up w/our kids and our convos to extend ourselves... ironically, after the quake was over and we went back to our homes, the convos stopped but we were more aware of each other.. We still continued to wave but the convos stopped... To me that was sad... It took a tragedy to bring us together for 24 hrs. then it was business as usual...
    Now the neighborhood I live in, the population of kids has diminished and I must admit,I am now one of the few who talk to my neighbors.. I do a lot of walking and came across someone new and it felt good.. He even mentioned how he wished the neighborhood was more friendly.. btw he does have a child but is seldom out.. Different times and generations... From what I heard this new acquaintance is on the pc ... so I guess my theory on technology isn't too far off?? :-)

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  9. I think a great percentage of Americans still have the qualities that made the "Greatest Generation." But I feel the media has a great deal of influence in a dichotomy over current interests. Whenever there is a national disaster, Americans rally together with all the specialness that has always made us the Greatest Generation.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  10. It is true that Americans always come together when there is a disaster in our country. I would assume that this is true in other countries as well. I cannot really think of 5 things that make Americans stand out in a positive way. We are all citizens of the earth, all human beings, and I don't believe we are any better, or worse, than other people.

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  11. Isn't that THERE not THEIR?

    ("...remember when their was a deep sense...")

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  12. How about Arrogant, Obnoxious, Narcissistic, Disrespectful and Judgmental… oh wait, you said positive, hmm…

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  13. David: Yes, thank you. I corrected it. Early morning post, I guess.

    David: Is it possible your description is the positive? Are we collectively nothing more?

    KBF: I just listen and learn.

    Manzi: We do seem to rally around tragedy, but only for a short period. Maybe, forgetfulness should be an added quality.

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  14. Judie: You must agree with David. Yes?

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  15. @JJ: I agree w/David. He's spot on!.

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  16. Hmmm-David makes us sound like the worst people on earth. His words could also be used by many to describe the French, the British, etc. I don't think any country has cornered the market on those "attributes." There is good to be found somewhere in most countries around the world.

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  17. How interesting to read comments from Americans (I use the term with apologies to our North American neighbors) as well as from those who hail from other countries. I lived overseas for seven years and I've traveled to many places in the world. There are many places I loved and Bangkok, in particular (where I lived for three years), is a place I miss from time to time. I had wonderful adventures and I have many wonderful memories, but I always knew I would come home to the US.

    While my time overseas expanded my view of the world and led me to appreciate other customs and the positive characteristics of other countries, it also made me more appreciative of my home country.

    Some of the things I like best are the flip side of things that are not always so positive. For example, our lack of long history leaves us a bit rootless, but it also frees us from the constraints of stagnant tradition. Our lack of a singular racial/cultural profile leaves us fragmented, but it also adds a richness and openness to our national tapestry.

    As Obama said, this is a country where a biracial boy with a funny name can grow up to be president.

    So who are "real" Americans? We are like the teenagers of the globe (and in terms of the age of our country compared to others, I think this is fairly accurate). Full of overconfidence, willingness to take risks, hope, optimism, often thinking we know best, often rushing in too fast, yet just as quick to reach out a helping hand, roll up our sleeves and volunteer, fueled by a can do attitude, full of energy, and full of bravado with our hearts on our sleeves.

    Whew, you got me on a roll here.

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  18. KBF: That is pretty straightforward.

    Judie: It is good to hear that you are positive.

    Galen: I was careful to say we were called Americans. North and South Americans have their own sense of pride in their continent.You appear to be basically positive on our nation.

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  19. Interesting post, JJ. I think Canadians are changing too. I blame it on greed and a fascination with the rich and famous. Plus many of us have lost our closeness to nature.

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  20. EG Wow: Understood. I don't think North America has a monopoly on greed. It is more rampant worldwide than I have ever seen it.

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  21. I'm just being realistic, JJ. Lately, I have let myself get way too annoyed with the political process that is going on right now in America. I really do agree with EG Wow that we need to get back to a calmer and more beautiful life. I'm hoping that our vacation on Jekyll will let me do that. We'll see.

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  22. Judie: I can't argue, because I am always positive. However, we could use a little improvement in this country, and politics is never positive. I'll e-mail you about Jekyll Island. Perhaps, we can have dinner. I'll send you an e-mail with our schedule.

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  23. Hi JJ, interesting post. I really agree with Judie about the dangers of monopolising basic human traits like compassion and coming together in times of crisis as a unique national characteristic. And I'm sure the media do it everywhere. Down Under we're always being told in our media about "Australians coming together" after crisis like the bushfires in Vic, and the QLD floods -- why don't they just talk about "people coming together"? That's what people do isn't it?

    Having said that, there are two words which I think more than anything else sum-up Americans the world over and always has: "can do". Obviously, national stereotypes are always gross generalisations -- there all kinds of people living in every different country -- but I think there prevails in America a real "can do" attitude. Which is different from the "computer says no" attitude that you find prevails amongst bureaucrats and the like in Britain and Europe.

    Australia has it a bit too, but it's Americans who pioneered the spirit and it's Americans who are famous for it.

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  24. Akseli: Those are my feelings exactly. As you probably noticed, I avoid political discussions. I am not a party affiliate. I don't even call myself "an Independent." I am just independent. My entire political outlook depends on how much the contending parties express a "can do" outlook for the country. I don't want to see the USA become Europe. Governments should serve people, not vice versa, and citizens need motivation, not handouts (with exceptions, of course, like the disabled, mentally challenged, elderly, etc.). It is all up to the people of the planet.

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  25. Daring, helpful, giving to a fault, struggling to learn and grow, resilient.

    Had to chime in...and what a great discussion!

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  26. A-M: What great qualities you attribute to our nation. I agree wholeheartedly.

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