I am not a flag-waving, gun-toting American.
I think the fact that we have the right to criticize (again and again) our government, to question our motives and to demand better is an excellent thing.
I understand why the world doesn’t like us very much. I understand we have a reputation that isn’t that great, and I understand we don’t do very much to fix this reputation. I get it. It’s embarrassing, and I can be honest about it.
But I am an American. The more I’m traveling and seeing the world, experiencing cultures that aren’t my own, the more I see that being an American means more than just being a loud mouth Jersey Shore dickhead. There is a culture here, a way of talking, a way of understanding the world, a way of identifying ourselves. Being American means something, even if Americans try and ignore it or deny it or push it aside as “just one big melting pot”. Which is true but untrue all at the same time.
And here is where my anger surfaces. I understand the global criticism. We think we are the good guys, but we don’t really act like the good guys and we are most of the time out to only benefit ourselves… on a global level, not on an individual level (unless you’re a high ranking politician… even Obama). But you and I, we are going to work and coming home and living our lives. We are fortunate because we have more than some other people have. We also have less, but mostly we just have more. I believe that the majority of people are passively self centered; they don’t want to hurt other people necessarily, they just care about themselves the most. I don’t like this very much, but I see that it exists.
What is super frustrating to me is the nonchalance that people from other countries have about badmouthing “Americans” or “America” to my face. Aside from being rude, it really pisses me off. I would never start talking shit about where you come from to you. I may have ideas, political/cultural ideas, that I have the ability to express in broad terms, but I am not going to burden you, oh citizen of the world, with them. So why is it so fucking acceptable to tell me how “American” such and such negative stereotype is, or how America is ruining the world or how we are all just a bunch of arrogant, immature, environment-hating capitalists?
I mean, I know why. That was rhetorical. But I think it’s totally bullshit. On a personal level I feel like I’m doing the best I can. I hate that I don’t feel like I have any power in politics, but I try to show that Americans aren’t bad people by being polite and gracious abroad (and yes, self deprecating when it’s called for). But I’m exhausted by the weight of all the assumptions and the overwhelming acceptance that it’s cool to hate on the United States. I’m super over it. I don’t want to feel embarrassed of where I come from and parts of who I am. When are people (both here and everywhere) going to be able to tell the difference between a country and its people? Please let it be in my lifetime.