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A better world

Reader comment on item: Europeans: From Venus?

Submitted by Tim (United States), Jan 9, 2007 at 02:23

I suspect that Europeans, and indeed the whole world, hate America because they feel that she is ready to be retired. The Europeans feel that what once was rightful is theirs and the Chinese and South Americans feel that it has only been denied them. I am an American, I've lived here my whole life and only visited one foreign country. Regardless, I'm not ignorant, and I'm not stupid. I live in one of the worst states in the Union in regards to education (despite being one of the wealthiest) and yet I don't fit the typical American stereotype that I run across so often on the internet and in other media.

Whether it was my parents or my nature, I have always loved to learn about other places and ideas. I'm certainly no expert on French, British, or Japanese history but then most people aren't. I challenge the average German to a test on the details of American history, or a Mexican. Most won't do very well. They'll know some prominent names, either because at some point my country's history crossed with theirs or because for whatever reason they found American history interesting enough to pursue it in higher education. Now, this all holds true for the average American too. Most won't know a whole lot about British or Russian history, and some (as is true in other countries) won't be experts on their own. Now maybe that number is slightly higher here, I don't know, I certainly could be wrong but I doubt it.

I think that people all around the world are fundamentally the same. They strive for the very same things with usually only aesthetic differences. What they all strive for is a better world than the one they were brought into. Whether it was American colonists banding together against an abusive mother country, Russian communists deposing a neglectful Tzar, or even Muslim fundamelists torching an American flag as they gather in the street. None of us ever agrees on just what that better world should look like, or if we agree on that we certainly can't decide on how to properly craft it.

The American way of life has its vices, but it also has its benefits. We live mostly comfortable lives, and we mostly get along. Mostly. Some of us grow ignorant and obese as we make it a habit to swing by Taco Bell for a cheap lunch every day, only to relax on the couch for a few hours after a long day of work. We have serious problems with illegal drug trafficking and the violence and suffering that seems to follow it. Our consumer society that has bestowed us such wealth as also granted much disdain from the rest of the world.

Evidence of the latter is obvious by the vast majority of comments on this page. Hardly a good or decent thing said about my country amidst dozens of criticisms and outright lies. Some of the things said are true, some are half-true, and some aren't true at all. People often accuse Americans of seeing the world in black and white, yet none of them ever seem to realize that they themselves are seeing the world that way too. Did America invade Iraq just for oil, or WMD's, or to spread democracy? Was it just to set up a puppet government, to rescue a country from the yoke of a tryannical dictator, or simply a son's revenge against the attempted murder of his father?

Simply choosing one of those answers would be short sighted. To some degree I suspect that they are all true. Politicians and Generals are not stupid; they invade and trade for many reasons, whether in the interests of themselves, their political party, country, or heavin forbid, their fellow man. Iraq was not invaded just to find Weapons of Mass Destruction any more than Hiroshima was bombed just to intimidate the Russians.

America is aware of her problems, and her history, anyone who doesn't think so doesn't watch enough of our TV. Every day we debate the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, and countless other issues both past and present. I do love my country, and I consider myself patriotic and perhaps nationalistic in a sea of nations and ideologies that would not hesitate to wash my country off its thrown so that it might be replaced by another. America is certainly paranoid, and she is justified in that feeling.

I have much admiration for the Founding Fathers, the ideals they fought for, and the nation they tried to create. Yet I am also ashamed of my ancestor's forced relocation or outright exterimation of our land's native people. As proud as I am of our contribution to World War II, I am embarassed by our support of dictators across the globe durring the Cold War. Rome failed, Camelot failed, and Eden failed, and they were all much grander. In time, America will fail too but I hope that we'll be remembered not for slavery, but for democracy. Not for what we took away from the world, but from what we gave it.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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