America: The Spoiled Teenager…

My international relations class is filled with international students.  In a class of 23, only three of my students are American born.  With so many students from other countries and now receiving their education in America, one would think that words of admiration and unbridled enthusiasm for America’s way of life would pour out of their mouths.  Some have come from war-torn, poor, and religious intolerant nations. Sound familiar?  Yet with so much diversity, the feeling of anti-Americanism dominates the classroom.  Discussion in the classroom centers on how America should not promote its values, way of life, or democracy on anyone else.  “America has its own problems to figure out before they go telling other countries what to do.” And “Americans are immoral and selfish.” But, America also continues to have the highest percentage of immigrants moving to the country. How can this be so?  Is it because America is so great? No.  The fact is America is the spoiled teenager that people only like because of its toys.

Follow me.  You know the rich kid from school? They have all the cool toys and gadgets you and your parents could never afford.  Their cupboard is full of tasty treats and snacks that your parents never buy.  Everyone loves to hang out there, so the kid has a lot of “friends.”  Whenever you guys go out as a group he offers to pay or his parents always take the kids out to dinner, which your mom could never do.  When people hit hard times or can’t afford to go out with the rest of the group they always offer a helping hand, not from a generous heart, but because it makes them feel important and gives them the reputation of a good person.  As you got older, his house was the safe house that kids would go in order to drink.  Your parents had no problem with you hanging out there; everyone was doing it.

Personality wise, this kid is poor. Not very attractive, says awkward things.  If they didn’t have all the latest toys and cupboard full of snacks, people wouldn’t hang out there.  In fact, behind their back, they are ridiculed and consistently made fun of and as soon as another kid, preferable much cooler and attractive, shows up with cool stuff they can’t wait to move on.  Of course, this kid thinks that they are cooler than they really are.  They believe people like hanging out with them because of their personality or think the girls like him because he is attractive.  They act with the confidence and arrogance of a cool kid that the other students can’t do without.  He has to be cool.  If he wasn’t, why would people hangout there?

What am I saying? America, too, believes that people migrate here and befriend us because our values and way of life is so great.  No, people migrate to America because overall, we unethical and it’s a place where people can move to and get away with anything, especially if you have money.  Selfishness and individualism are not only profitable, it is encouraged.  Now if lack of money is your problem, in America you can get rich fairly quickly.    And not for the “hard work” associated with the American dream.  It was once believed that if you come to America and work hard you can live a good life.  This is no longer the case; the secret is out.  The truth is, in America you can get rich and famous for very little work, effort, and for filthy and disgusting acts, worth little honor or glory at all.  The fact that the Kardashians are popular only proves this point.  You can have no talent whatsoever, make a sex tape, and the next thing you’re rich and famous!  In America, just being good looking can make you rich.  If you’re not good looking, being extremely ignorant and short-sighted can make you famous too, see Honey Boo Boo.  Smart, dumb, poor and ugly, if you’re willing to demean yourself and lower your standards, yes, you can have whatever you want in America.  If you’re not rich, there are enough shallow people in America who are willing to “show you a good time” just because you’re good looking.  You can stay in all the finest hotels and hangout at the best nightclubs, a much better life than you once had, basically for very little substance.  No talent, no great idea or contribution to society, just a shallow dream to get ahead.  And in America, that attitude gets rewarded.  People around the world know America is full of shallow, materialistic people, who have replaced God with money.  They don’t have to come here and learn the rules, learn a language, or customs.  Most liberals will be quick to tell you that there is no American customs or traditions for people to belong to.  We all come from somewhere else and that’s what makes the country so great.

America thinks our freedoms and liberties make us special and separate us from the rest of the world.  Anyone who thinks this is clearly out of touch with reality.  America has the highest prison population in the world, meaning, we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.  You think people in America are free?  This is one of the LEAST free places a person can live.  You think America is the land of opportunity? America has the largest economic inequality than any other industrialized nation.  The rich and poor are furthest apart in this country than anywhere else, and the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.  Over 90% of the people die in the same economic class they were born into.  So the idea of class mobility is also an American myth.

But we are so open-minded.  Americans are accepting of other cultures and people who are different.  Remember, we all came from somewhere else.  If you believe this, I have a beach house in South Dakota to sell you.  Look how we treat Muslims and the racial problems in this country.  America isn’t tolerant of difference.  We are some of the most intolerant people who dislike anyone who looks different, talks different, or believes different.  To think that people migrate to America because we are so open-minded and accepting of peoples’ differences is to suffer from the highest degree of disillusionment.  The streets have never been paved with gold but that was once the myth of immigrants who came to America too.

The problem in America, back to the analogy of the spoiled teenager, is divorce: all of a sudden there isn’t as much money and the person really isn’t that cool in the first place, so befriending them becomes less important.  Yet that person fights tooth and nail to maintain prestige and friendships.  You really see what a terrible friend and shallow person they are when the money isn’t as strong, and their attitude changes when they notice that people were just using them for the cool place to hangout.  America, too, is running low on funds and we are starting to see the country for what it is. Not so free, not so tolerant, and people are starting to question its brilliance and significance in the rest of the world.  It used to be that other countries around the world didn’t have the opportunities, wealth, and way of life as Americans had.  But in 2012, there are many countries that people can choose that have democracy, women’s rights, economic prosperity, but also come with national health care, education, and more tolerant people and government.  As soon as another country, preferably not China, has new and better toys than America, perhaps a little more tolerant with better things to offer, America will be the $2 dollar prostitute that only gets attention when the party is over and you ran out of crew love.  Sure it still has potential; every now and then it shows signs of life and can pull off a few tricks from its younger days.  But for the most part, its position as a special place with great ideas and unparalleled freedom is gone.  American exceptionalism is a great idea, but no longer backed by facts.  Truth be told, we aren’t as cool as we think we are. And the world is starting to notice too…

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