Wednesday, November 16, 2011

17 Reasons TO live in America

I follow the blog of this Irish guy who wrote an ebook on learning languages. I met him briefly in Vancouver. He goes on three month language “missions” where he becomes conversational, even fluent, in the language by the end of the mission. His ideas are good, but nothing radical from what Jacob tells me (Jacob, of course, is a genius at learning languages.)

He wrote a scathing article about why he would never want to live in America. I'm fine dishing it out about my own country, but when someone else does it I feel the need to defend it. Especially since the reasons he lists are quite asinine, in my opinion. It’s gotten quite a lot of attention, especially from fawning I-hate-America Americans.So here are 17 reasons to live in America. You can read the original article here:

1. Americans are becoming minority friendly. America is making progress when it comes to political correctness. Yes, we're sensitive and probably over-the-top at times—but we're leading the way in changing the way minorities are spoken about. The civil rights movement was such a short time ago. We still have a long way to go but the fact that we're concerned about it is a huge step forward. Plus we’re super conscious on creating user-friendly things for people with disabilities.
2. Americans are endearingly optimistic, if maybe slightly naïve. I'm grateful for the can-do attitude Americans have.
3. Americans have the best smiles in the world, thanks to excellent dental work and oral hygiene. I'm really grateful to have had braces (thanks Mom). Braces are basically not seen anywhere else. No wonder we’re smiley! (This American has my favorite smile.)
4. Yes it's annoying the way waiters love to take your plate away before you're finished. Yet, universally Jacob and I have missed getting constant drink refills and not having to wave the waiter over if you need the check. Customer service in America, as far as convenience goes, is top-notch.
5. The prices for technology and other high end products are the lowest anywhere we've been—since a lot of them are produced in America and then exported elsewhere.
6. You can buy anything you want in the US. Anything. Whether it's online or thrift stores or Louis Vuitton, there's such a fantastic range of products as specific as you could ever want, and you'll be able to find it in the price range that you want too, and there will be competing products even within a niche market.
7. He thinks it's wasteful the way people upgrade to the next technology product. I think that's simply ignorant. I'm married to a chronic technology upgrader, and is it any surprise that he also is a technology creator? The US is a leader in technology, obviously. I don't see any major breakthroughs coming from Ireland. Maybe you should think about upgrading your devices.
8. Americans welcome outsiders. For the most part. The US accepts more immigrants than the rest of the countries put together.
9. Americans are a proud people. While of course it can go too far, people need to have pride in their heritage and Americans do. Plus I think we celebrate holidays dang well.  P1110218
10. If you like to cook, I can't imagine a better country to live in than America. The grocery stores are the biggest, there are specialty shops even in the smallest of towns, and even the poorer people's houses have fantastically large kitchens. You can cook Thai, Indian, Chinese, or Mexican food easily.
11. As an atheist, he was annoyed at the religious fervor of Americans. I can see how that would be difficult, but at the same time there are plenty of atheists in America. Every religion is well represented in the US. It's just one more way that the US has these sort of niche specialties. It can be nice, I think. For example I thought it would be nice to visit a Universal Unitarian church. There are none here in Mexico City. You can bet there are in the major cities of the US. It's a measure of US diversity, although of course the majority of people are Evangelical or Protestant Christian. Here Jacob, Grandpa Campbell, and I are at an LDS historical monument in the Midwest.

12. I love Walmart. As soon as I got to Mexico City I visited Walmart. I visited it four times in two weeks. Three different ones. It’s a little ghetto here compared to the American version but it’s better than nothing. It's really easy to dis on corporations until you never have access to them.
13. Okay, the no public transportation thing is a real downer, I'll be the first to agree with that. But on the bright side, there's gas stations with free bathrooms and drinking fountains wherever you are.
14. Efficiency is a value of Americans. Like any value, it can be taken too far—and I certainly used to take it too far, as do others as is evidenced by the high level of stress-related illnesses—but there's no denying that Americans accomplish more in their day than the majority of people around the world. Their methods of increasing efficiency, like in Cheaper By the Dozen, have increased efficiency for other people around the world as well.
15. Hobbies. In America, you have the space, the time, the materials and the means to practice whatever hobby you want. Woodworking, horse riding, piano, jumping higher, quilting...Americans by and large will each of them have a passion—a real obsession with a subject that makes for interesting and skillful people. If you happen to have a hobby for house decorating, which I obviously don't, but if you do I can't imagine a better place to do it than the US. Plus the US is the ideal place for a developing athlete.

16. The best foodie scene in the world. You can get any kind of food even in small towns. Yes there's fast food too. But I don't blame Americans for having trouble with their weight. Food in America is plentiful and it's good. This picture is actually Egyptian food, but you know you can find that in the US too.
17. Americans are entrepreneurs. We are individualists, and we see problems and create solutions for them. So many of the traveling location independent people in the world today whose blogs I follow are Americans. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence. I think being American is ideal for helping people to become self-sufficient (another American value), free, and choosing your own path. Here’s the owner of Bioletics, a company that tests your vitamins in your blood for athletes. We met him in Bend, Oregon.

P1080929's that for a dose of positivity on America from this now three year abroad expat :) (Three years ago this week we arrived in Heiligenhaus, Germany…the start of our adventure. Times have changed since then!) Happy Thanksgiving! We'll be eating it with another LDS family here in Mexico City. Woo hoo!


Matt said...

Awesome. I read the Benny post and thought it was interesting, but I didn't agree with much. I've been in Japan for about eight months now, and as awesome as it is, I really miss the states.

I'd add that, although for Benny it was a downer, I love how much space there is in the US, and driving is my number one most-missed thing.

Laura: The Sushi Snob said...

I have a friend who did a few study abroad programs in college, and she said that she nearly kissed the ground when she came back to the United States. She enjoyed her experiences abroad, don't get me wrong, but she was really happy to come back.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bro... I consider this posting to be a great perspective on the States from a progressive U.S. American. It proves it is possible to deeply appreciate qualities of the U.S. without being a flag waving, fanatic.

Europe is often held up as years ahead of us in every manner. I lived in Germany for years, and although I loved living there, my experience certainly has not been black and white. Many Europeans struggle deeply with immigration issues. I occasionally teach ESL in the States and many of my students moved to Western Europe before coming here. Some have shared the experience of isolation and discrimination that they experienced there as Non-Europeans.

Looking at the increasingly popular racist right in Europe, I hear rhetoric that sounds like it's from the Deep South in the 1950's. I realize that we haven't always lived up to what we profess and we have a violent history (like so many countries) , but I'm proud of coming from a nation of immigrants, a place where for the most part of you are second generation hardly anyone questions your nationality. I'm also proud of having a President of color.

Finally, as far as Benny is concerned, I read his blog often and find a lot of interesting perspectives in his postings. However, as a German professor, I was curious and skeptical about his “three month” approach. He downloaded a video in which he speaks several different languages. His pronunciation of “Tag” (German for “day”) was so off it sounded like the German word for “pond”. The word “day” is one of the most common nouns in most any language. Who can claim fluency when they cannot even pronounce a word which one hears constantly? Sorry, it takes years to TRULY master a foreign language. I think Benny is a bit of bull shitter!

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