For some it is a land of freedom, justice, and equal opportunity, while for others it is the great satan. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the United States of America, but what is generally opined on is a facet of American culture. In 2006, the United States of America (US) celebrated the 230th anniversary of their independence. Today, we shall examine the American culture.
Approximately 370 years ago, groups of Christians fled religious persecution in Europe and sought refuge in America. Liberal minded persons seeking freedom from political persecution, and opportunists hoping to find their fortune followed them. Human greed led to the creation of an oppressed group of displaced Native Americans and African slaves.
The Christian influence promoted a culture of righteousness and morality, the liberal influence promoted a culture of equality and freedom, and the opportunist influence promoted a culture of commerce. The oppressed influenced a culture in pursuit of justice. Thus four distinct influences promoting four distinct sub-cultures became the cultural foundation of modern America.
These sub-cultures are still evident in modern American culture, each striving for dominance, thereby resulting in a state of imbalance. When one sub-culture is allowed to dominate an environment, to the exclusion of the other sub-cultures, then the resulting imbalance tends to corrupt that environment. This can lead to a negative perception of America.
A dominant Christian influenced culture in its quest for righteousness and morality, can neglect obvious social responsibilities, which can lead to a distrust of America. A dominant liberal influenced culture in its quest for equality and freedom, can promote lower standards of morality and education, which can lead to disrespect for America. A dominant opportunistic influenced culture in its quest for commerce can promote a disregard for the damaging consequential social and environmental costs, which can lead to contempt of America. A dominant oppressed influenced culture in its quest for justice, can expose corrupt, hypocritical, and unjust American practices, which can lead to a hatred of America.
America’s challenge is to bring these sub-cultures into a sustainable equilibrium. The relatively recent unbalanced social policies have not brought about the desired cultural equilibrium, but have instead required expensive social repair programmes.
The current curriculum in most of the public schools has brought about some measure of academic equality. However, it has also resulted in an inward looking society that places little value in things outside of America. The promotion of immoral and irresponsible behaviour has given some persons a feeling of freedom, but it has also led to dangerous addictions, diseases, and crime. The social welfare programs have assisted the poor, but they have also bred a culture of dependency. The affirmative action programs have given minority groups educational and work opportunities. However, they have also bred resentment within those groups who do not qualify.
The Christian influenced culture is losing ground to an increasingly dominant and hostile liberal culture. The oppressed culture is becoming more prominent as oppressed persons are given more avenues to tell their stories. With the declining Christian influence, the opportunistic and liberal influenced cultures have lost their conscience, as they pursue unbalanced policies oblivious to their damaging consequences.
For all of our sakes, these sub-cultures need to achieve a state of equilibrium with great urgency, since Barbados was scheduled to enter a free trading environment with America in 2005. To appreciate aspects of American culture does not mean that one supports the disequilibrium that often results in unbalanced policies, and to criticize such policies does not mean that one hates America or its citizens. Regrettably, modern American culture promotes a dismissive arrogance towards any comment from a non-American that is not complimentary of their policies.