Reclaiming America & American Values
Whatever happened to the liberal, progressive, democratic, diverse, rich American melting pot and God-blessed land, for long receiving settlers and inspiring citizens worldwide. After its 20th century glory, it slowed down in the "rate" of scientific progress, compared to fast-growing countries like China or Japan, whose people are secular by nature; it made less civil rights achievements, compared to the more liberal northern Europe; it lost much control over its demographic diversity, compared to similarly new, well-planned, migrant-receiving countries; and it grew more materialistic and ruled by large national/multinational corporations than by people themselves.
Could the US face an existential threat, and, like many great civilizations, bring its own demise, quickly or slowly lagging behind other world powers? Until now, statistically, the US is still the "greatest large country," with best universities, military, IT, etc. But the rate of others' progress is alarming.
It's difficult and simplistic to describe whole nations and their citizens by certain characters: generous, friendly, frigid, etc. This is a sweeping generalization fallacy both natives and foreigners commit, out of mindless attachment to a certain land and people, and ignorance about others, fed by media, upbringing, etc. Still, some characters hold true for some individuals, segments of society, and certain historical eras, shaped by sociopolitical, technological, and environmental elements.
The "actual" characters a nation has, however, aren't necessarily the same it claims, aspires, or used to have. It is important for a nation, as for an individual, to know one's identity and uniqueness to best fit in world order, and regularly apply "self-criticism" to correct one's mistakes, to avoid getting backward, excommunicated from world community, or even extinct, for refusing to cope with reality as all organisms do for survival.
Many US politicians, as elsewhere, typically invoke the subject of national values to assimilate and unite the masses for easier rule and control: the right evokes old values to keep, and the left calls for new ones to adopt, both to face a world constantly changing. Internationally, they propagate American values and promptly list them in every "resume" for international affairs, for cooperation with others, but also to justify US superiority and interference in other countries.
When people settled in America, they needed a code of ethics for their new life. Later, when the US became a dominant power, it had to present itself to the world differently. And when other powers emerged or returned, Americans lost and gained some values in the sea of globalization, as every other nation did, among which new global values were adopted and old universal human values people relinquished or simply returned to.
• American DEMOCRACY, though one of the oldest in recent history, has deviated from that of the Founding Fathers', and of Ancient Greece's principles that derived its power directly from people and free rich nationwide dialogue. It even lags behind some modern democracies challenged with more differences and less resources. Those who own US money and technology are the de-facto Leaders of America, not its people who are almost a tool in the hands of the former: the CIA, giant corporations, etc. Abusing resources in the name of open market, or abusing technology in the name of fighting terrorism, inevitably undermines democracy. According to the US elite, the American public is unworthy of sharing the new windfalls of IT and globalization, restricted to such elite.
Ironically, America's democracy among Americans stands in contrast with its overseas "autocracy" toward other countries and their citizens, making such democracy hypocritical, incomplete, and unappealing to those the US wants to impress or subdue to follow its pattern, order, and interests. Democracy is a whole that doesn't exist in a vacuum. One cannot be democratic toward fellow countrymen/tribesmen/family members only, and undemocratic toward the rest.
• US LIBERTY has been preoccupied with physical freedoms, rather than true intellectual and social reform, compared to ascetic socialistic societies (e.g. in East Asia) valuing simple living, and individualistic societies (e.g. in Northern Europe) respecting individual's privacy, opinion, and experiments. It's ironic how the liberal US supports fundamentalists, not educated secularists or liberals, in many countries it seeks to control (while hypocritically claiming to help), whether citizens or entire repressive regimes, just as typical colonialists "used" unpatriotic extremists and traitors to facilitate serving their colonial goals.
Civil rights movements in the US slowed down after the 60s, while the US was busy forming alliances with other countries against the USSR and constantly finding ways to weaken it. All the inspiration from two world wars (and millions of lost lives) had slowly subsided and lessons forgotten, while obsession with nuclear power increased. Fear derived from guilt had fed the Cold War; after all, the US remains the only country that used nuclear power for mass destruction.
• The American melting pot or DIVERSITY many "young" immigrant countries claim, hides discrimination underneath. The diversity is mostly "within the minority," while the white majority is mostly the same. The US' still conservative and superior attitude toward other countries, and the lack of interest by many Americans in world cultures, languages and problems, make America still predominantly a Christian European country, compared to more diverse countries, e.g. India, Philippines, Nigeria, etc.
Of all US minorities, its growing Latin American population not only won't improve this lack of diversity, but in the long run worsen US demography in quality and quantity, thanks to America's wrong polices that denied best world citizens entering its territory, while yearly letting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants get through its borders, many of whom are opportunists and enthusiasts just desperate to live in America, with no/little/negative qualities to add to their host country.
• With more of the above cases, America's PRAGMATISM turns into opportunism. This is common in many an immigrant "land of opportunity" whose population gradually develop the same collective accumulative "expedient" character (opportunity land creating opportunistic people). After all America was founded by western colonialists, on millions of skulls of its original inhabitants. It was built by torture and slavery, of Africans taken away from their land and families. Somehow the guilt is still there.
However, America's true creative pragmatism, that many in "old" countries lack, can be reclaimed, if Americans simply mind their business, renovating their already new country to find the right niche for every different minority or individual, and redefining America's role worldwide by watching its leaders' and decision-makers' "covered" neocolonial foreign policies, that interfere in others' affairs in the name of spreading democracy or keeping world order. Both dreamy liberal leftists and chauvinistic rightists should accept that.
• Americans' love and PATRIOTISM toward their country make many take pride in the rich "God-blessed" Indian land and resources more than any other quality. Although some Americans still ignorantly belittle countries they believe to be less privileged (or even God-cursed/ignored/forgotten), many others envy other countries growing also rich, advanced, influential, and more popular worldwide. Nations like Japan, Germany, India, China, etc. have made great advances without having/vaunting much resources, taking pride instead in how they used what they have, not how much it is.
Over-pride in physical richness creates premature self-satisfaction that wastes one's energy, alertness, desire for change, and self-criticism. It breeds materialism in American culture, and contagiously worldwide, dissatisfaction in poor citizens, and gluttony among rich American decision-makers, many of whom may lead their country eventually to its demise, as was the fate of many civilizations plagued by decadence.