In celebration of my 100th post on my blog, I decided to get a little patriotic. I really get sick of all the people who say "America has no culture" or "we need to be more like Europe" because they're cultured and proper and we're just a bunch of backward hicks who have yet to learn of dental hygiene. I BEG to differ.
Let's do a little comparison between Europe and America, as well as look at some things that are purely American/perfected by America.
Here's superior, progressive Europe for you: The smart car. Seats two with limited storage capacity and gets great mileage (roughtly 40 mpg). Isn't it cute?
Now I present to you the American "smart car":
Our version of alternative transportation also comfortably seats two, gets roughly 40-50 mpg (depending on model, mine gets 42) and has limited storage capacity, but is decidedly more Bad A%#. Pardon my French. In addition, it's road legal in sweet states like South Dakota.
How about our sports? We invented basketball and heavily modified the lackluster sport of cricket into the great American sport of baseball. Not to mention having the great idea of throwing pads on so we can hit harder and faster in another classic American sport: football.
We also have a ton of traditions that go along with these sports. Tailgating? Americans treasure friendship and laughter more than anything. I've been to many different countries, and one thing I've noticed staying with people in other countries is that they simply don't laugh and enjoy life as much as we do. Americans will look for any excuse to fire up a grill with a bunch of friends and have a good time, whether it be tailgating before a football game, a pep rally, Superbowl party, or simply just the weekend...we have a culture of fraternalism, as we are more free than most societies to do these things. That's why I get really irked when government tries to "protect" us from activities it deems too dangerous or risky...trying to save us from ourselves. I see it as a gradual process that builds upon itself, slowly leading to a overburdened, over regulated society where there are very few things that we are free to choose for ourselves to do. Americans have a culture of adventure, fun, daringness, and outrageousness (which probably has something to do with our higher health care costs maybe?) Don't like it? I don't mind...I enjoy being able to choose my own risks for myself.
They said we couldn't fly, we did.
They said we'd never go to the moon, we did....a few times. We even turned the failed mission of Apollo 13 into a success story.
Who would have thought electricity could think? We did. You can thank America for computers. For that matter, thank us for the light bulb, too. You rock Thomas Edison. Segways. Telephones. Sewing machines. Steam engines. Air conditioning. Revolvers. Combines, which increased our ability to provide food for billions. Vulcanized rubber. Steel. Rolled toilet paper. Motorcycles. Vacuum cleaners. Jeans. Keyboards. Electric dental drills. The Internet. Zippers. Hollywood. Water skiing. I could go on.
The point is, why did so many great, innovative things come from America? We didn't necessarily invent pizza or the internal combustion engine...but we perfected them. Pizza was not popular worldwide until we decided to cut it in slices, throw toppings on it, and sell it at every street corner in New York. The automobile was only for the super rich in Europe, but through our creativity and ingenuity, Henry Ford was able to create the assembly line and put a vehicle with an internal combustion engine within the price range of most Americans.
We were able to accomplish all these things because we had a government that did not promise everyone everything. Our country has a history and culture of independence, self-reliance, and economic freedom...conditions that require citizens to be creative, innovate, and work hard to become successful and survive. We are the most mobile society on the planet; rags to riches, if you prefer. There is no permanent, pompous upper class as they have in Europe. Eventually generations of unwise practices will bring the upper class down a notch if they are not wise in their economic decisions (*coughParisHiltoncough*). Lower class people have the opportunity to succeed if they try, work hard, and utilize their talents and we maintain a society that encourages and rewards success...incentives for effort.
How about our literary culture? Mark Twain. Edgar Allan Poe. Washington Irving. Ernest Hemingway. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Herman Melville. Stephen King. John Steinbeck. Sinclair Lewis. Walt Whitman. Emily Dickenson. F. Scott Fitzgerald. And tons more. They all represent unique American culture.
How about music? We invented jazz, rap, country, hip hop, blues, techno, bluegrass, gospel, ROCK AND ROLL. The world would be a dull place without a lot of our music, which is the biggest music industry in the world now.
Food. I'm not even going to name all the foods that I can think of that are purely American because I'll get hungry, but I'll name a few: apple pie of course needs to be mentioned, New England clam chowder, French fries, Philly cheesesteak, turkey, hotdish, venison (because our country still lets us hunt wild animals), and all our unique seafood species and cooking techniques on the coasts. We also have a unique ability to assimilate things from other countries and create unique tastes that quickly become popular and Americanized, in the unique tradition of the "melting pot." Creole cooking in the South, Germanic/Swedish/Norwegian variations around here in the Midwest, Tex-mex in the Southwest, and Hawaiian/Asian influences on the west coast. Very few of these dishes would be see as authentic by their home countries, because we modify and tinker too much in our culture.
What about our activities? Americans are willing to try anything and everything. The wing-walking, flag-sitting, etc. craze of the roaring 20's comes to mind. American Idol and similar shows, which allow for the every day people to pursue their talents and possibly become rich and famous. Fear Factor. Bungee jumping. Evil Knievel. I'd be willing to bet that most records that Guinness has in his Book of World Records are held by Americans. We like everything bigger, faster, and stronger. We like to have fun and push the envelope.
Americans also "invented" the Great Outdoors. Hunting, fishing, and camping are a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. We have a deep appreciation for nature conservation and all it offers to us. America has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
We are constantly busy with other activities as well. Volunteerism is one of the most important American traditions, and we have some of the highest rates of volunteerism in the world. It's estimated that American volunteerism represents roughly $150 billion worth of economic activity! Maybe we're just more generous, but I believe it has more to do with our culture of independence from government. We feel a bigger sense of compassion for our neighbor and have a higher level of civic responsibility for our communities when we have to rely on ourselves to solve problems.
The point is we most definitely have a culture. Don't let anyone tell you different, or that we should be more like Europe. Anyone who thinks that, you're free to move there...I may even buy your plane ticket.
We have a robust, brash, jovial, creative, innovative, accepting, entrepreneurial, original, and unique culture. Yes, we may seem to bully other nations at times, but almost every single war we have ever fought (which are few compared to many nations) has been in the name of defending freedom, whether our own or to liberate others. Our wars have been fought mainly over preserving individual freedom, individual liberty, and individual independence, and I'll die before I let that American ideal fade into the annals of history, only to become a distant memory as some try to passively merge our country's culture with the Western European collectivist, stagnate, nanny-state culture of despotism.