One of the weaknesses I see with other cultures concerning the united states (and visa versa) is that we are a country that was formed with immigrants, and yet, we forget this fact. The only native citizens were the native Americans, and they suffered much like the native Irish inside their own country when "civilized" foreign groups came in.
There are two things about the states that make it unique. One is a large size and geographical diversity that can keep you busy seeing beautiful and new ideas for years. The country was blessed with a great variety, so there really is no need to go explore outside the country, even though if you get off the tour guide route, it is probably the greatest gift you can give yourself
The second is that the media isolates the news inside the country, and seems to do a great job of keeping outside news and views out. This bewilders me, as there are hundreds of channels of television, all owned by just a few giant corporations. Gone is the diversity of competition, and the news media is more like some p/r or propaganda mouthpiece for those with an agenda. it seems like the the more bias with news, the better the ratings.
When I read about the perceptions of Americans overseas, and I have to confess, I was very much like everyone else when I started out on the journey to learn and see more about the planet. Well, over time, you realize and start asking questions. Lots of them.
what amazed me is how few locals in many countries could answer simple questions about their government, laws, societies, and beliefs.
I wager I can walk down the street in any town USA and get similar responses. So when I hear people bashing other countries' ideologies, laws, rules, and customs. I wager we see the world through only our perspective that is known to us. It doesn't mean it is incorrect for that spot on the planet, however, if we were in another country, ideology, religion, or political element – what they believe is what is right on their spot on this planet
The only way I have found to move forward and wipe out the ignorance of fear that seems to hold the planet is some sort of strange arms race instead of détente is the simplicity of trying to generalize a people or culture as good or bad. Instead of accepting the world is many shade of gray, it seems easier for folks to just look at whatever is different from themselves, and somehow wish to eliminate or get rid of that which is "different." there is nothing wrong with wanting a simpler and more convenient life, but I really have heartburn with people not taking a moment and imagining something different coming inside the borders of the united states and telling the people what to do, how to behave.
a priest friend of mine once asked about the patriotism in America, "we call everyone against us an enemy or evil, and we are upset when we go to another country, and people fight back."
"yes, we fail to remember that the united states was blessed with a decent natural defense system before long range rockets. people also forget the most casualties in American history came from our own civil war, right on our soil. it doesn't' surprise me that the media and country use a sort of propaganda like they do, what amazes me is fewer people ask a question like, "if some other group or country came into the united states and fought to change us to their ideas, would we not indeed fight back with everything we have?"
The answer is yes, a group of people would indeed fight back, with whatever. It is no different than what our forces face overseas in conflict zones.
But right now, I think back to the simple interviews I did with the refugees in Switzerland in my German class. "my name is…I come from." was the idea that could have easily been expanded to bring a humanizing touch to all the people whose color and language was different in what was pretty much a Caucasian majority in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
after talking to each person at an individual level and through whatever conflict or gaming of the system they did to get into the country, each had the exact same answer to the question, "what do you want for your life?"
each said, "I want to live my life in peace."
There were vast differences of race, creed, color, religious, and ideological backgrounds. Yet, each person gave the same answer to the question.
so why is it so hard for everyone to actually get along?
oh yeah, we live in a society that dodge blame, we deny guilt, "brand" a different version of ourselves than who we actually are, we accuse each other instead of forgiving and not stop to take the time to look inside and realize, "I am just as imperfect as everyone else on this planet, why not take some time to work on me?"