Aug 21, 2006

In Search of America

Why America becomes a superpower country? It can set out the image and view the world about it. All people in the world exactly know America. They have seen, heard, and read about United States for most of their lives.

“This land is your land” is hegemony of America. Our mind are influenced that all things that related with America need to know. All the images and views of America are heard, seen, read, or observe outside the United States. America seems to be everywhere but everywhere is not America. Nevertheless, American images and products are not always welcome. In both, East and West has tried to discourage or has simply forbidden the inflow of unwanted Americana.

It is very difficult for a foreigner to grasp the size of the U.S. and the great variety of life. Most Americans take the size and variety of their country for granted. For a long period of time it has been popular to describe the typical American character or even “the American way of life,” as if there were only one. To attempt this with the more homogeneous people and nations of America, the results have often been disastrous, if not just comical.

American society is the most open and, at the same time, most intensely and continually self-critical in the world. Any country that was founded on ideals, as the United States was, and that declares them openly and defines itself through them, will constantly have to measure the distance between where it is and where it should be. The distance between the reality of life and the hope for a better one is also the basis of the American Dream. It is has been hotly argued not only by Americans, but by the rest of the world as well. This debate about America is at the center of what it means to be an American and the strength of the argument reflect the view that America is different or should be. The literature of America has also demonstrated this tradition of self-criticism.

Many Americans feel that such continuing self-tradition, the terrible attention by the media, the publishing of the things best keep secret, the hunts for scandals, has gone too far. They point out that in few other western societies can political cartoonists so openly ridicule their leader.

America could be described as the polluted land, the despoiler of a great wilderness, the inventor of the throw-away culture. Or it could be described as the first country to set aside national parks, among the first to ban DDT, the culture that created the world “ recycling,” a nation where women would be jeered if they wore furs of a cheetah or leopard. America could be portrayed as a nation of intolerance and hate, or the last refuge for millions, where all religions under the sun are found.

America is neither a land where gold is found on the streets nor the land where all streets are filled with soup-lines and drunks, should go without saying. If someone today come to America already knowing what they will find, then they will find it, be it riches or grim poverty. Yet, if one is willing to give those first Americans a chance to introduce themselves, then we stand a better chance of discovering where America is, and who Americans are.

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