Culture Clashes

I watched a couple of good movies this weekend. They made me think of how different cultures are. While I have been able to compare a lot of the culture differences between the US and Colombia, they are both in the American continent, they are both capitalist and well western.

Europeans seem to be able to do the whole cultural sensitivity dance. Being so close to people that have a complete different background helps. I can drive for hours and still find myself in the great plains of America, but in Europe a couple of hours can put you in a place that speaks a totally different language and you have not even left Spain. Yes, not everyone in Spain speaks Spanish, just in case you did not know. Americans are very naive when it comes to the world, sheltered, and at times even arrogant. We think that our way of life is the way of life that everyone in the world should have. While I do think that democracy and capitalism are great principles, at times at wonder if our culture of “one size fits all” can really accommodate the whole world.

I don’t even know where to start, mostly because I am not even sure of what I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I feel that it is important that my audience, mostly people in the US get a glimpse of what I know about the world outside of the US. Then my other urge is to reach outside of American and show the world that; hey America is not the Evil Empire that at times it appears to be. In the end I am left with so many questions and no answers. Are Americans really that arrogant that they think everyone should live like them? Is the world really that misinformed that they think that America is just out to conquer the world? Is making others think really something that can be accomplished via a simple blog?

8 comments on “Culture Clashes

  1. Yes being in Europe is totally different and if I had the chance to live in Germany again I would jump at it. I love that not only are they hard workers, they are hard players and seem to really enjoy their free time to the fullest.

  2. Since the birth of democracy in America, we have offered the world a glimpse of what it means to be free and Capitalistic. Since then there have been hundreds of new democracies created around the world. Whereas in the past, empires were created from wars and hostile takeovers, America has changed the world with its views in a positive light. The spread of freedom has made the world a safer and more productive place for every single human being who enjoys such a luxury.

    Other countries can disagree or dispise us. If that makes us arrogant, then fine. However, the end result is that those people are free to express their ideas because of the fundamental idiology of the American way of life. We have the right to appear arrogant to the rest of the world. We’ve been doing it longer and have greater resources than any other country. The difference is that we share, provide, and help make the world a better place.

    Americans are spoiled. We don’t have to worry about other countries because they don’t really affect us in the same way they do the smaller counties in Europe. We’re too rich and too far away. It’s no different than worrying about the politics in a city three states over. We make up our own problems here and we like it that way. I see the dissent from other cultures as jealousy. And well… they should be.

    If that makes me an arrogant American, then so be it.

  3. Mmm, democracy wasn’t born in the United States…
    I recall a little city by the name of Athens.
    If other democracies were born in the past years, they didn’t took the United States model, they most likely took a romantic approach and based on helenistic principles.
    With these principles came the French Revolution and the international declaration of human rights. Since then, other revolutions (including Colombian struggle for independence) were based on the principles of “egalitè, fraternitè et libertè” of the French revolutionaries.
    It was from the success in France of the revolution, that people in countries like England, Italy and Germany started a fight for democracy and equalitarism.
    It was from French Revolution that Romanticism (a movement that fought for democracy and independence, or freedom of each nationality) was borned, and Revolutions like the Greek one generated.
    To be honest, until the 1920’s nobody gave a damn crap about what happened in “America”

    But anyway, positions like the one Travis is taking is what makes people all over the world hate the United States (not “America”, America is a much bigger continent that your annoying country)

    Y saludos Logtar, disculpe si em pongo ofensivo en el comment, pero me pareció que el comentario anterior era tan molestamente soberbio y egocéntrico que merecía ser respondido. Y bueno, me parece una gran tarea la suya y ojalá no se rinda, aunque sea solo un blog, es al menos un guerrero luchando por la unión de los pueblos. Puede que más y más se le unan. Yo también trato de hacer lo mismo, les hablo a mis amigos italianos bien de las cosas buenas que tiene Colombia y a mis amigos colombianos, de las cosas buenas que viví en Estados Unidos. Claro que nada es blanco ni negro.

  4. Nationalism displayed through arrogance and pride is not innately or uniquely American. I suppose that due to the current state of affairs, the U.S. is in the limelight. If any other country had currently as much self-affirmed and regulated power and prestige as the U.S., then that country would also be in the spotlight.

    It is true that the U.S. is spoiled. It is also true that we are sheltered. I have no arguement about that. It is also true that currently, we are one of the few countries in the world that contain strong feminist values. While it is true that we cannot compare to the Netherlands as far as sexual freedom, we have less sexism in our country than in any Spanish-speaking country. Women in Spanish-speaking countries have strong gender roles that have not been challenged the way they have in the U.S., and for that, I thank God I am an American.

  5. The trouble with referring to the U.S. as an “evil empire” is that it isn’t an empire and it is only “evil” from time to time. Like the waxing and waning of the moon, political policies in the United States change all the time. Sometimes it is for the good of the people. Sometimes it is for the greed of politicians and their corporate puppeteers (dating back to the very founding of this country with land/slave owners and plantations).

    When greed rules, you end up with what we currently have: A government full of corruption and policies that don’t really benefit the American people as a whole and take advantage of those without a voice in American politics (illegal immigrants, foreign countries, certain minorities, etc). The only real recent development in U.S. politics is that the groups with vast lobbying power are also the same groups that control the media. A very uninformed (or mis-informed) public is very easily led astray. When you have a majority in Congress that doesn’t complain much about the media, you know something is wrong.

    Only very recently have news stories been reported about the widespread corruption in the government. These stories all came from comparatively small media sources (New York Times). It is fortunate that there exists reporters that are still willing to uncover the truth and that the truth is popular enough to incite the attention of organizations like CNN and Fox News. Both of which don’t have investigative reporters uncovering the truth–they only have pretty faces reading pre-approved content, carefully chosen guests to represent “both sides” of any and all issues (as if there were always only two sides), and editorial talking heads that represent the extremist side of any given issue in order to increase ratings.

    The public is largely unaware that their sources of information can be so misleading and misrepresentative of the truth because the majority of Americans stopped being “written for” for a long time ago. What I mean is that the “average joe” is no longer being targeted by newspapers since the advertisers that pay the most for space are looking for readers that can afford their goods (upper middle class and the wealthy). There’s simply not enough money to be made by a large paper in marketing to middle class America. A single mother with two daughters can pick up a newspaper and read stories like, “How to boost of your 401k” or rare human interest stories like, “Hot new summer fashions”. Neither of which are even remotely close to her lifestyle.

    Your “average joe” doesn’t have much in the way of news sources these days so they end up watching entertainment channels like Fox News or the Christian Broadcasting Network instead. This situation has been going on long enough now that the hateful and uneducated views from the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Pat Robertson end up trickling down on the masses. If you hear enough of that B.S. on a day to day basis you just might start to believe it if you’re never presented an informed view.

    Combine all that with a not-so-great economy, rising energy prices, and a rising consumer price index and you start getting a lot of average joes who want someone to blame for the suddely harder life. For a while there the conservative right-wing Republicans and media groups did a pretty good job of convincing them it was all the fault of the “liberals” and Democrats, but the truth is something you can only hide for so long. Their “trust capital” and “political capital” appears to be running out.

    We’re about to have a new round of elections in Congress and I predict that liberal/social policies will swing back into popularity. In 2008 it will be full-steam ahead and we’ll have real progress again. Then, in 2012 we’ll see that the political left are just starting to abuse their power and by 2016 we’ll find that we have yet another corrupt government and we’ll be looking at the conservatives once again to swing back the pendulum.

    Before all that happens, we’ll probably see the media and conservative Republicans trying to re-define very liberal policies to appear to be conservative. That way they won’t have to admit to being “liberal” and can continue to do whatever it is that their biggest campaign donors want.

    “I have a license to kill -9”

  6. I haven’t got a lot of time tonight, but I would like to say that most Americans in my opinion are arrogant and need informed. I do not think it is intentional but I do think it is a problem, nevertheless. Americans suffer from cultural hegemony. This is where they think that there way of life is the best way, That their culture should dominate over others. Keep trying to educate people, my friend, because it is sorely needed. All cultures have value an no single culture is better than any other. Most Americans are sheltered an know of no other culture than their own. Sad, but true.

  7. One thing I give you credit for, Logtar, is seeing both sides of the equation. Many of the comments above that bash the U.S. are no better than Americans bashing outsiders, just for being different.

  8. The english language is a tough one, POL. If you read correctly, my opening statment began, “Since the birth of democracy in America” and not, “When America invented Democracy.” Simply put, I was referring to when America adopted the democratic model.

    Prior to the spread of democracy and Capitalism by the United States, be it directly or indirectly (yes, other cultures can see what we have and reject their own governments) there weren’t many other choices.

    As for Americans needing to be informed, that may be true from the outside looking in. However, from the inside looking out, the rest of the world is greatly insignificant to America. That’s just the way it is. Some people think the real answer is tolerance and acceptance of these insignificancies. Is that a word? Anyway, I simply tell it like it is whether it is right or wrong (ethically, politically, etc.) If that makes me come off as an arrogant American, then I guess that is your problem and not mine. I don’t care, remember? But I am certainly not going to pretend, nor sugar coat the world just to appear moderate in all instances. This is America. I have an opinion. And rightly so, it is your right to ignore me.

    Man, I love this country.

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