Throughout our countrys existence one maxim has predominated its impression. The notion that this land mass, which has arbitrarily been selected through a course of events we call history, is the land of opportunity. People have found refuge, freedom, and enterprise in America. However, even though we serve to be a global hub to capitalism and freedom, it is our existence that is our demise. Many people are confused about the goals of our country and the idealities of righteousness and freedom that America is trying to instill within its inhabitants. Our identity, as Americans, shouldnt be muddled but instead clearly recognizable. Unfortunately, one of the more powerful solicitors of identity is the education system. What we learn is filtered to fit a quota for what a typical American should know and identify with. Now, I personally do not know who defines this quota. I do, however, know that the historical events that underline our history and in turn our identity is very biased in the sense that the duality that exists, whether within man himself or the actual events, is overlooked and mistakably unmentioned. America is usually perceived as an unbiased and understanding nation. However I think that this common, but wrong, perception is influenced by our countrys full metal jacket; our countrys protection against itself. I think that most American youths today can agree that the education provided is in great attempts to be multicultural but, is in fact unavoidably saturated with traditional historical treatments of the typical American story.
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In most schools, especially before college, there is a standard curriculum that is taught. We, as students, learn about our countrys history, focusing on mostly European descent, and how the events of the world has shaped America into the glorious nation that exists today. Now the facetious nature of this adjective glorious is often unnoticed. Luckily I am here to point it out for you. First, we must define glorious. Glorious, noted by the renowned Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, is defined as1a: possessing or deserving glory: illustrious; b: entitling one to glory; 2: marked by great beauty or splendor. Now that there is a clear understanding of the definitive meaning of the word glory we can try to relate it to our country. I am not sure how or why America can be classified as possessing or deserving glory. If we retrace our countrys footsteps it is clearly evident that we have trampled on the weak, using their vulnerability as a tool to advance. I think that the aspiration of betterment or development is commendable, however I dont think that the obtaining of this amelioration should be at someone elses expense. Not to mention that our need to dominate is politically sugar coated with the notion of philanthropy (hint: Vietnam). Who are we fooling? Obviously only ourselves. America is a country who unconditionally embraces capitalism and competition, which leaves no room for altruism.
Secondly, we, as a collective entity; the U.S., are not entitled to glory. In the dissertation, A Different Mirror, Takaki states that the New York Times marked the nations motto as, E pluribus unum, meaning out of many, one (541). One of our biggest problems is that we deny the fact that we are a melting-pot nation. The U.S. has suffered through countless racial strife and multicultural controversy. Our identity as Americans is that we are American! We have to accept all the cultures that embody our nation but more importantly we have to internalize the actuality of our uniform existence. We are all Americans because we are all U.S. citizens regardless of race, creed, religion, and genealogical or historical background. As typical Americans our history is only a short-lived 224 years. In actuality our history is much longer. Takaki, in response to the writings of Allan Bloom, an emerged leader of an intellectual backlash against cultural diversity, points out that,
one failure in race relations is that black students have been proven to be indigestible. They do not melt as have other groups. The problem, he contends, is that blacks have become blacks: they have become ethnic. This separatism has been reinforced by an academic permissiveness that has befouled the curriculum with Black Studies along with Learn Another Culture. The only solution, bloom insists, is the good old Great Books approach. (540).
I also think that one of our problems is that we let ethnicity interfere with the nations identity. Just as we welcome newcomers we should welcome their history because we are a melting-pot nation. There are no insoluble groups in the great concoction of America, or at least there shouldnt be. We are simply all Americans and just as we welcome all we should be receptive to all ideas, or at least aware of them.
The U.S. has a tumultuous history and those that have been around and that are educated in that history know that countless gallons of blood have been shed on this continent and others. Our ruddy soil is symbolic of the adversities that have been overcome, but now it seems as if those stains are transparent. Why have we forgotten our heritage? Why have we ignored the values that many proud Americans died to keep alive? The answer is ignorance. We have to educate the youth better. As of now the prejudice that plagues our society is not the fault of the people who exhibit this bigotry. They are merely ignorant, and ignorance of this magnitude is not tolerable. Like Takaki said, the stories the people who have lived in Americas history can help us, including my taxi driver, understand that Americans originated from many shores, and that all of us are entitled to dignity (553). We have to learn to embrace all of history. However, more importantly we have to overcome the fear of equality. We have to unbuckle the impenetrable encasement that we have hidden in, and we have to accept us, all of us, as a country. Only then, once exposed and vulnerable, will we as a country be able to truly progress.
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