The American Infallibility Complex

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Sandninjer, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    I'm going to speak on behalf of only Americans because I'm an American. To help strengthen my perspective, I'm going to write what inspired me in my life to come to the present state of mind I have today.

    I grew up singing the national anthem, even in choir, placed my right hand over my heart to pledge my allegiance to the American flag once every day for 5 days a week, spoke and knew only English for most of my childhood, and knew absolutely nothing about what existed outside our borders. When 9/11 happened, I could see the smoke from the WTC from my high school during a pep rally. I was so enraged I almost joined the military just to go fight overseas. I bought into every media broadcast about how there are people in the world jealous of our freedom, my own people, and hated them for it. I grew up a patriot, a successful byproduct of American education and childhood development.

    I grew up thinking I was superior to the rest of the world. When I was just a child, I visited Pakistan a few times. I remember feeling better, faster, stronger, smarter, and just a hell of a lot cooler than them all. It didn't help that at that time, Pakistanis actually thought Americans were cool back then, so my ego was fed even more. I would question why people would want to live anywhere in the world except in the U.S., it just didn't make sense to me. That was the mentality I had growing up even though I was a great kid. I never questioned my government and the media was a great source of information.

    A couple years ago, my life appeared to come crashing down. I got locked up 3 times in a single summer, lost my job, my apartment, my car, my phone, was negative financially, couldn't ride public transportation since there was none remotely within walking distance, all my friends lived far away, so my parents took me in and I just lived my life in solitude over the course of the next 10 months. After falling into depression and losing every ounce of motivation to push further, I began to question life. I lived in that state of mind for a while and began to analyze myself, the world around me, and focused more on what I didn't know. I decided to take a different perspective of things and eventually came around to questioning myself as an American. It was around that time that things began to finally go uphill, albeit slowly.

    What if the rest of the world is actually happy where they are? What if they don't need superior technology to have fun? What if they don't need anorexic models on a catwalk to tell them what they should and shouldn't wear? What if they enjoy not being corporate slaves? After asking myself these questions, and many more, I began to realize that phrases like "first world" and "third world" are actually byproducts of an egotistical Western mentality. What makes a country great? Is it how many nukes they have and how much they invest in technology? What about happiness? I've seen people across the world living with nothing, people who are considered homeless in the West, yet there are those in the same situation on the other side of the planet who still enjoy life. Maybe it's freedom you're thinking? That our freedom in the West is superior to the rest of the world? Then I ask, what's "freedom"? I've found that freedom here in the U.S. goes hand-in-hand with being a financial slave. You spend potentially 1/3-1/4 of your life in school, building up debt that can potentially take the rest of your life to pay back, and you live off non-tangible money which incurs interest, and if you choose to live off just paper money and ignore loans, then you're denied the the true American luxuries until you submit yourself to financial slavery.

    I don't call that freedom, I call it slavery. But from a young age, we're all wired to believe that everything we do in the U.S., ranging from our freedom to foreign policies to education to healthcare (etc), is superior to the rest of the world. We have some of the brightest minds in the world here in the U.S. yet so many of us fail to actually use our brains and think outside of what we were raised to believe.

    Just what is it about us that causes us to harbor the mentality that we're superior to the rest of the world?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  2. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    I'll just leave this here...

    [ame=""]Bill Maher - American Hubris Rant - YouTube[/ame]

    It's a few years old now, and I've never been the hugest fan of Bill Maher, but he makes a good point.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  3. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    I usually don't check MAP when I'm home, mostly just a way for me to kill some downtime while in the office, but I'm at work right now and don't have access to view videos. Mind doing a quick recap of the vid?
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    Thanks for sharing.

    However, I don't see how this should be an indictment of the USA (or of the education, culture, technology, or whatever). Your personal experiences may or may not represent what anyone else goes through or how they deal with life in the USA. It sure doesn't represent the US as a whole though.
  5. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    In a nutshell, he discusses how America ranks surprisingly low in things like public health and education when compared to other countries, yet many of its citizens still believe that they are #1 at pretty much everything.

    As a half-American, half-Canadian currently living north of the border, I agree with both your and Maher's sentiments. It seems that so many Americans fall hook, line, and sinker for the idea that the USA is the best country in the world without ever having experienced life anywhere else. Not only are there people who live happy, fulfilled lives with much less than the average American, there are also countries that offer better education, better healthcare, and more freedom than the US. This doesn't necessarily make the US a bad place, but as Maher says, it does make it a little silly for Americans to figuratively wave a big foam #1 finger in everyone else's faces.
  6. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply, Thomas. One view certainly can never represent an entire nation, let alone the entire world, so my intention isn't to represent every single American. However, as a society, we're guilty of this. I've been in thousands of debates in person and online with people who feel this way. It's everywhere and most of all, it's fed to us in the media. We show movies with characters of non-American ethnicity but the protagonists often miraculously appear to act and speak American (i.e., Disney's Aladdin), we make it a point to call out people are Muslim when they're convicted for domestic crimes (i.e., "Muslim man raped daughter"), the old saying of "the Black guy always dies first" in movies (although that's progressively changed now), and just the overall mentality that we're fed. I've heard of patriotism in other countries, but I've rarely ever seen such blind and unquestionable faith to their governments like we have here in the U.S.
  7. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    So there's no difference between the average life in Liberia and the avergae life in Los Angeles?
    And it's egotistical to think there is?

    I'm not a great believer in national pride at all. Countries don't do anything. People do. Collectively they can do more but such things don't make me think a country is "great".
    Empirically though there are some countries that are "better" than others (for all sorts of reasons).

    Well that certainly helped develop the computer and internet you enjoy so much. :)
  8. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Thanks for the recap, man, much appreciated. That's kind of surprising coming from Mahrer, I wasn't particularly very fond of his views either. Not to stereotype you but the fact that you're even half Canadian makes sense. My wife is Canadian and so is the rest of my extended family through her. I occasinally keep in touch with some of her Canadian friends on Facebook and we share the view that American society as a whole is guilty of thinking way too much of itself. It's the whole "We're #1" business that makes us look like morons to the rest of the world. Given that, within the next couple years, I do plan on moving to Ontario in hope of a little change.

    Our presidents and other major political figures are constantly babbling on TV about how all our actions are approved by God and we're protecting the freedom of the Earth and so forth. It's too self-righteous and it's mind boggling that so few are able to see it.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  9. peterc8455

    peterc8455 Valued Member

    Please only speak on your own behalf.

    As Thomas stated "Your personal experiences may or may not represent what anyone else goes through or how they deal with life in the USA."
  10. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    I have a lot to get done today. Stop posting threads I find interesting and would love to spend an hour sitting down giving my opinion on the subject :yeleyes:

    I do think you have a large portion of the American population nailed though. That same type of person can be found in large proportions in the U.S. Military as well. It doesn't speak for everyone, not even close, but it's a large enough group to have an effect in politics and day to day activity.
  11. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Replies in bold.
  12. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter


    ....and more snow obviously!
  13. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Hahaha. I had too much time to spare at work this morning, but I'm about to take a lunch and get busy. Hopefully this thread doesn't distract me too much.

    But yeah, one of my best friends did his time in the Marines and it bothers the crap out of me as to how blind he is. He's the pure definition of what I described in my OP. We have discussions some times and he'll think about some things I said for a little while, but he's too patriotic to let any of it really sink in.
  14. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    Sounds to me like you're getting peeved a little bit because somebody who has a negative outlook on some of the things that go on in our country. Sounds to me like you're saying, "I don't like what you're saying, STFU." Sounds to me like you're trying to save face against an unpopular opinion about Americans. So to me you sound exactly like the person Sandninjer is talking about but you don't realize it.

    Granted I may miss the intent in your post but Sandninjer even said he wasn't speaking for everyone and acknowledged that. So either you didn't read that or you really just don't like what he's saying. If you don't like what he's saying then I think you're clueless. I could name maybe 50 people off the top of my head that I know personally who are exactly like this and most of them come from the Baby Boomer generation.

    Aside from what I just said, I'm not for U.S. bashing when it is focused on a group of like-minded people made to represent the U.S. as a whole. However, I love to keep my hate warm for opinions and comments on people who I think have some pretty selfish, entitled, and misguided views. Especially in the U.S. since I have the most experience here.
  15. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Thanks, Ero. I wouldn't have said anything different, although mine may have been less productive as yours :p
  16. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I would define it by looking at things like life expectancy, access to education, access to vaccinations and freedom from common disease (children not dying from diarrhoea for example), the emancipation of women, access to social advancement, free time with family, access to drinking water etc.
    Any number of criteria you can use to compare "life".
    None of them guarantee happiness but they certainly help such matters. :)

    Not Libya. Liberia. But no matter.
    There are many people that live peaceful and enjoyable lives in those countries.
    But propotionally not nearly to the same level as in Scandinavian countries (the countries that really do lead the world in the things that matter in life IMHO).
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    This, I agree with.

    OK, pardon me for getting a bit mean here, but you also need to look outside of your stereotypes as well. Maybe instead of getting into "thousands of debates", you should focus on taking action to make your own life better, then the life of your community members, and then your nation. It's easy to complain about the perceived failings of your life/community/nation, but it's another thing to do something about it.

    What are you doing to make life better? Do you volunteer your time? Have you considered running for office? Or, is it just debate and complain?

    The media does not equal reality. I understand the wide appeal and power of the media, but life goes beyond that.

    I've seen it in action in other countries (very noticeably in South Korea - although the degree of gratitude for what the US helped them achieve is strongly visible there as well).

    I guess your original post raises my hackles a bit, mostly for the sheer generalizations that are being made. I read your description of your troubles and travails and I think of my own - I grew up in poverty and then was able to use my 'free public education' and military service to get myself into (and through) college and eventually work my way into a very good job with nice benefits. Throughout my experiences, I have lived in various countries and visited many more, picked up several languages to varying degrees, experienced how governments work in different nations, seen the differences in life styles across borders, and have ended up in a pretty good spot, despite my beginnings.

    The greatest thing my government gives me is the "freedom" to pursue those things (which I have done). I disagree with certain policies and actions of the government and can see areas we need to improve. I also see the "good things" that make me appreciate living here and the "good things" that have allowed me to prosper. I would not have had that chance in many of the countries I have visited.
  18. peterc8455

    peterc8455 Valued Member

    No I'm not saying that ("I don't like what you're saying, STFU.") at all. I just said he should only speak for himself after reading the first line of his post which was pretty specific.

    I apologize if I missed where he stated otherwise.

    I don't believe I'm clueless and I don't believe I'm a Baby Boomer either if that is what you are insinuating. I don't think that's an insult but technically I'm a member of Generation X. :D
  19. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    My replies in bold.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  20. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Highly Skilled Peeper Supporter

    I offer a lot of room for where people's personal opinion is directed and assumed he wasn't talking about everybody in the U.S.. If he would have phrased it a different way (direct U.S. bashing based on a group of people made to represent the whole) I probably would have had the same reaction as you! It wasn't until a later post that he clarified.

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