There are varying opinions and perceptions of America. There are some that consider America to be, undeniably, the best, while others believe America is inferior, and, of course, there are those in the middle who think of America as average or in need of improvement. America used to be a tough, hard-working country, but in recent years, has fallen behind the curve. The American culture can, now, be best described as uninformed, sheltered, entitled, and lazy. America should transform into the country it once was where one could speak the truth and not worry about hurting others’ feelings or being judged, a country where the people are informed of and exposed to the real world issues around them, and most importantly one where the citizens are hard-working and do not expect anything to be handed to them, as President John F.
Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
” Nonetheless, America should sustain the pride that is shared in being American, to an extent, maintain and expand its ability and desire to advance in conjunction with its perseverance and determination, as well as preserve the appreciation of its history. As time has progressed, the American culture has deteriorated so much so, in contrast to former years, that the country is not as revered as it once was.
Over the years, Americans have developed a reputation for being uninformed, sheltered, entitled and lazy. There is a preconceived notion amongst Americans that the United States is superior to all other world nations, however, there are several reasons why this is simply not true.
While many Americans believe that the United States is the best country in the world, I take issue with this presumption because there are numerous statistics to refute this claim. For example, the U.S. is seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, one hundred seventy-eighth in infant mortality, third in median household income, and fourth in labor force and exports (Sorkin 2015).
These statistics solidify the point that Americans are uninformed because they don’t understand that we are not the best and demonstrate the vast difference between the perceptions and reality. Additionally, the newest American generation seems to think that everything will be handed to them without working for it, maybe because, so far, everything has or because of the sheer lack of desire to achieve their goals independently. Kimberly Morgan cites that “…the amount of resources the public and private sectors to all these forms of welfare is massive: as a percentage of GDP, for example, spending on the health and welfare of citizens is greater in the United States than in most advanced industrial economies.”(Morgan 2013). With the example of citizens being dependent on the government to take care of them, this supports the assertion that the American culture has proven to be lazy and unwilling to work for themselves, but favoring government handouts.
Furthermore, America should change its mentality and look to the past in order to achieve the changes necessary to find its way back to the top. In the past, one could speak their mind without worrying about offending someone or being judged for their opinions, however, today, many take offense to the views of others, making them uncomfortable in speaking their mind. This is even apparent to those who only visit our country, an Irishman wrote, “…sometimes I wonder if political correctness is in your constitution… I had to bite my tongue pretty much all the time… nobody was ever straight with me…”(Lewis 2017) Because it is evident to various groups of people that Americans are too sensitive, we should resolve to allow others to voice their opinions as they please and to not be offended by it, within reason. However, it is apparent that this is not a new issue, as it was occurring long ago, though perhaps, in a slightly different form. Patrick Henry divulged that “…it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth…” (Henry 1775).
Though two hundred forty-two years apart, both Benny Lewis and Henry were aware of the sensitivity and softness of the American people. In the case of Patrick Henry, it is presented in a way that shows American sensitivity to the gravity of the impending situation(revolution). Henry is also implying that ignoring the situation and being optimistic about reconciliation in order to avoid conflict has to change to make progress. Conjointly, the American people should transform their laziness and sense of entitlement into productivity that will not only benefit them but the country as a whole. Likewise, Americans should make a point to be more informed on what is going on in their country and in the world around them. As previously mentioned, Americans prove to be uninformed by tending to think that America is the best country; nonetheless, this is not something that should continue. Americans should alter the way they see the world and the United States in it so that they can better advance the country and its standing amongst other nations.
There are some who oppose the idea that America is too sensitive or sheltered, claiming that it makes the people more agreeable or the society more pleasant. Yet, in claiming this, they are completely missing the mark. Having members of our society be too coddled does exactly the opposite of what those who argue for it propose. Essentially, the more sheltered and sensitive a society is, the more negative and hostile it is because those who cannot cope with views that contrast their own become too emotionally caught up in what others have to say. Too much tenderness is a hindrance to the country (Paine 1777) in various different ways including creating division amongst its people or causing the people to be too weak to defend themselves.
The hypersensitivity of some makes life so much more difficult and situations more uncomfortable than they have to be for others. The basic liberties and freedoms of so many groups of people are being suppressed because entitled, sheltered people can’t accept the lifestyles, opinions, and views of those around them. Additionally, being too nice can trigger an emotional response from those who are easily offended if one is not nice enough to them. For example, Benny Lewis also wrote about how he observed that Americans smile at each other for no apparent reason and how everything is “awesome”(Lewis 2017). This also contributes to the problem because one may argue, once again, that this would make society more pleasant and enjoyable, but this is incorrect for the aforementioned reasons.
All negativity aside, America should retain its pride, determination, and historical appreciation. Although I have said numerous times that too much pride has caused Americans to turn a cheek to the statistics pointing to the actual standing of the U.S in the world, pride in one’s country is not a bad thing, as long as it is within reason. The American people should be proud to be American with a limit on how much they ignore other countries. In other words, Americans can and should be proud as long as they acknowledge the accomplishments and advancements of other nations and realize that America is not the best. Going hand in hand with American pride, we should continue to appreciate the history of our country and the uniqueness of it. It is written that “tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”(Paine 1777).
Demonstrating the hardships of the Revolution, Thomas Paine is writing to raise the spirits of the troops and encourage them to continue fighting. If it were not for the troops fighting a Revolution unlike any other that had ever occurred before, we might not be here with the country that we know today. Our revolution and its patriots shaped the way the world saw the role of government in a person’s life and consequently changed the world, in a more dramatic sense. Finally, America should also maintain its desire to advance the way it did in the past. In the past, “we built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior.”(Sorkin 2015). Alluding to the past achievements and high points of America, the speaker is downplaying America’s current achievements. America has not stopped doing any of these things, it has just fallen behind in volume when compared to other parts of the world. Therefore, America should continue to make advances in the hopes of reaching the top once again.
Ultimately, America has some work to do. While it is debatable as to whether or not the pros outweigh the cons, it is undeniable that American culture has regressed and, partly due to this regression, Americans need to come together and resolve to make some crucial changes in order to become part of a highly esteemed country once again. Aside from adjustments, there are some remarkable qualities of the nation that should forever be admired and sustained. Americans should join in the competition between other countries instead of sitting on the sideline as if they have no competition and seeing themselves as superior as a nation. The past holds the key to succeeding in progress and dominance, in the case of the United States.