I’ll start off the political side of this site with a bit of a rant about something that really irks me: a small yet noticeable percentage of young Americans have developed some very disturbingly anti-American views. I don’t think there’s any way to tell exactly how or why or when or where these sentiments develop from, but it troubles me to hear the words that come out of the mouths of my peers. I’ve been to every state in this nation, and I know the wealth of goodness and great people and places offered by the United States of America. Hearing people around me speak of it with such disdain is honestly just disappointing.
So why do some millennials feel out of touch with what it means to be an American? Perhaps a better first question would be, what exactly does it mean to be an American? Take me, for instance. I’ve lived in the United States for my entire life. I’ve gone to American public schools, I’ve heard the “Star Spangled Banner” played before countless sporting events, and I’ve watched fireworks displays on Independence Day. What separates me from the anti-America Americans who have shared the same experiences?
I think one major aspect of the problem is the perceived differences between the United States and other nations, and I say perceived as if they aren’t there, but there really are some significant contrasts between the American way of life and a European or East Asian lifestyle. Here in Atlanta, a large number of people have parents who immigrated from Asia or Europe. In their home countries, the governments tend to be very restrictive. China, for example, is a great rambling machine of big government. On the other side, Germany and France have turned into bureaucratic welfare states. Leaving my personal views for big government and welfare states aside — both of which have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the mindset of the citizens and the effectiveness with which they are implemented — these nations’ styles of government have clear-cut, significant differences with that of the US.
With heavy-handed governments across all oceans from the United States (even in Canada), and a global internet which connects young people everywhere, Americans now quickly realize the oddity of their own nation. They become jealous of others who are offered free healthcare, free education, and quality public services. America does things differently. We stress individualism here while all of the European nations have turned to collectivism. “Working together solves the world’s problems!” they say. A message of cooperation and toleration and faith in government is being preached over the loudspeakers across the pond, and people here in the States can hear it. Unfortunately, collectivism works against the American ideals which have made this nation so wonderful.
I’m not saying that working with other people and helping those around you is a bad habit; on the contrary, that’s how everyone should ideally live their lives. I’m just saying that the collectivist attitudes in Europe have delivered a blow to the American Dream. The keystone of patriotism in the United States for the past century has been American exceptionalism, the belief that the United States of America is the greatest nation that has ever risen on this earth (and still is). The idea of American exceptionalism is quickly fading. This country needs inspiration, something that can make every generation look up at the Stars and Stripes and be filled with pride again.