I’m back in school. It’s crazy. There’s all these assignments and papers and projects. And reading! Was it really this much work 2 years ago, or is it just harder because I’ve taken a year off? Regardless, school is crazy.
In one of my classes earlier this week, one girl was talking about how America is a very prudish country. She said, “America in general is very prudish and closed-minded.” Now before I go any further, I should mention I’ve been to London and Paris and parts of Canada. I’ve never lived abroad (would really like to!) but my first base knowledge of foreign cultures is largely limited to reading about them.
I would agree with the statement that America CAN be prudish and closed-minded. But for the most part, all of my peers talk openly about sex, homosexuality, politics, and religion. Not so sure how open minded we are about all of this (It’s okay to have your own opinion!….As long it’s like mine.) but I would hardly call my peers “prudish”.
I don’t want to spend this post debating whether or not America is prudish and closed-minded, I really want the take home point to be this: we can’t wax romantic about other countries without really looking at the full spectrum of their current economic, social, and political state and perhaps giving our own country a little credit.
When I was in Paris, a riot occurred right under my nose in the street and the guards walked around with machine guns ready to fire at any moment. When I asked the waiter at lunch about it, they said, “Oh this happens almost every day.” Someone told me about their visit in France where he recounted guards shutting down the street to search all cars within that block. In America, we have liberty that not many governments allow in foreign nations. Let us not forget how lucky and blessed we are to live in this great nation that allows freedom of press, religion and privacy. Now in Paris, the food was great, the view from the eiffel tower was gorgeous, and for the most part, I appreciate the parenting I saw in Europe.
But let’s not wax romantic about European nations as if they are flawless and we have all the problems.
Italy. I’ve never been to Italy and would love to go. I could get into the whole “eat lots of pasta, drink lots of wine, speak Italian” thing. I admire (from what I have read and studied) how Italians raise their families. Children are treated with more freedom and it’s not just the nuclear family that eats Sunday dinner together; it’s everyone who is slightly related to anyone. I like that idea. But Italy has some political strife as well. I can guarantee you that Italy is far from a perfect nation, just as France and America.
I will lastly touch on Britain. London was awesome, I started drooling anytime anyone spoke with that legendary British accent. At dinner one night with some of my dad’s clients, they spoke very highly of America. One of them told me, “Don’t forget how lucky you guys have it over there. It’s so beautiful and there’s so much space!” (I live in Montana, I can attest to the beauty and vast space our land offers.)
In the grand scheme of things, we are an incredibly young nation. 240 years is a blink of an eye in the span of our planet – and look how far we have come! We have many freedoms that should not be overlooked. And in a small, fun way I like to take parts of cultures that I admire and put them in my very own home. I read all kinds of non-fiction books, especially pertaining to other religions and cultures – I can take what I like and leave the rest. I don’t have to move to a foreign nation to maintain some of their values.
One value of mine is dinner time. It’s a little more difficult with school now, but I hold a good meal with good company nearly every night of the week with high regard. (Much like British culture, meal time is not just for food, it’s for camaraderie.) Another value of mine is education and knowledge. (Many Asian cultures value education.) With libraries and the internet, there’s such a wealth of knowledge out there! Which, might I add, because of freedom of speech, I can read a variety of convictions from the library. Lastly, I don’t have children, but I highly value family and friends. Shout out to my family here and how much I love you all! (Italian culture appreciates familial relations and friendships.) If I ever do have kids, I hope to have a parenting style similar to European ones.
So now I have established that America is a great nation to be a part of. Yes, our political system is whack, and I don’t agree with a lot of it. Yea, there are some crazies our there and perhaps our nation as a whole is too concerned with materialism. But me? I don’t consider myself that way. I am proud to be in America and I am blessed with many liberties. In fact, I have the liberty to choose how to run my household, to educate myself, to choose my meals, and to freely practice Catholicism. I am decidedly lucky and proud to be American.