My Octopress Blog

A blogging framework for hackers.

On Being an American

As someone who has a number of rather generic email addresses, I always end up on the strangest mailing lists. Sometimes, I even end up on personal email lists with the people mistaking me for one of their parents or close friends. Usually, I would reply to these and let them know they have the wrong address, but every now and then the content is just far too interesting for me to forgo.

In the latest occurrence, I seem to have ended up on a particularly private list that continually sends me some of the most un-informed and “patriotic” emails I have ever seen. Apparently, the person thinks they are emailing their dad. I have been debating how to respond to this for a while, but I thought I would post some thoughts on the whole liberals vs republicans situation while I mull it over.

A common rally cry that I have seen: “If you’re offended why don’t you get your liberal butt out, and take all the fruits and nuts with ya.

I believe that the divide between the “liberals” and the “republicans” is mostly a farce to keep us worked up and distracted from the real issues. Regardless of what label is assigned to different groups by the media or by our “opponents,” we are all Americans and extensibly, Humans.

I think any American, regardless of political or religious affiliation, would stop to help their fellow man; Whether it be picking them up when they’ve fallen down or giving them a meal when they are going hungry.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. We are humans, and we all want the best for our friends and family. The misunderstandings are mostly over-emphasized by the media and a lack of understanding.

In every country I have been, I have met people with good morals and people with bad morals. I assure you that the good far outweigh the bad. However, we have all been conditioned to be afraid of change and afraid of the unknown. We have become complacent instead of inquisitive. This, at the end of the day, is at the root of our issues as a culture.

Studies in happiness have shown that we, as humans, are most happy when we can do two things:

  1. Trust our neighbors.
  2. Give.

Every religion on earth, at their core, focuses on those two things. It is through understanding and respect that we gain trust and it is through compassion that we can learn to give. Regardless of what we say every morning, those two behaviors should be at the root of who we are, and try to be, every day.

How can we trust each other if no one is willing to be inquisitive? How do you value someone’s opinion if they don’t understand the topic they are commenting on? How can we be compassionate if we are not willing to understand the plight of our fellow man?

It is far too easy to join hands with people of the same opinion and start a rally cry. Instead, I implore everyone to take the time to research the things they don’t understand and form their own opinion. 

As a country built by immigrants over hundreds of years and hard fought battles, it seems we have lost scope of what mattered in the first place.

We, as Americans, are all in this together, regardless of differences. Not for comfort, but for prosperity. I believe it is important to keep that in mind as we venture into this new world that embraces a global economy and a connected people.