Saturday, October 18, 2008

Being an American

A girl mentioned to me tonight that television advertising sometimes made her feel embarrassed to be American. I spent part of my drive home tonight thinking about the idea of being embarrassed or prideful of being an American. Regardless of what it means to be "an American," it seems as though it's something we're born into. This leads me to one of two conclusions.

1. Being "American" is something assigned at birth, much like a name. It can be used to predict the average outcome of a group, but has little implication on the individual (the difference between confidence intervals and prediction intervals). In this case being embarrassed or prideful of being an "American" has zero value as it is strictly a matter of nomenclature.

2. Being "American" defines a set of characteristics present in people, and well there are just more of those type people here in the U. S. of A., and we're breeding more. In this case, being "an American" is like has a genetic component, and is unavoidable. Now being being embarrassed or prideful is simply silly. It's like being proud to be white, or embarrassed to have glasses. Also in this case it's still clear that being "an American" doesn't say much about the outcome of the individual. It's simply the way an individual was born and should have hold no value.

Now all that being said. I don't like the average American, but I feel no emotion in calling myself "an American" (and let's not forget that I don't like people in general, so not liking American's only makes sense).

Closing with an aside: I'd be far more concerned about calling myself a follower of a political party, or religiously affiliated. Those are titles that you choose, and willingly align yourself with the tenets of a group. It does seem though, that Catholicism largely shifted to a nomenclative or heritable entity; the rest of Christianity seems on the way.


OpenID knitthehellout said...

I don't know about the being prideful or embarrassed part. To some degree being American is a choice. We can move to another country. I am sometimes embarrassed that I live in a country full of such egregious policy, but I don't have the financial or occupational means to leave, yet.

8:08 AM  

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