American life

People are naturally curious about each other, and when they meet people from different countries, they want to know about them. But the most interesting questions are often the hardest to answer. We must remember two important factors influencing American life: the immense size of the United States and its enormous ethnic diversity.

The belief in the individual freedom is probably the most basic reason of all American beliefs. The desire for freedom it is one of the main reasons why immigrants have traditionally come to this country. The strong belief in self-reliance continues today as a basic American value. Americans believe that they must be self-reliance in order to keep their freedom. By being dependent, not only do they risk losing freedom, but they also risk losing the respect of their peers.

A second important reason is the equality of opportunity. They do mean that each individual should have an equal change for success. Particularly important is the lack of hereditary aristocracy. There is, however, a price to be paid: competition. The pressure to compete causes an American man to be energetic, but it also places a constant emotional strain of him. When he retires, he tends to feel useless and unwanted in a society that gives so much prestige to those he competes well.

A third reason is to raise their standard of living. Material wealth became a value to the American people. Of course, most immigrants did not “get rich overnight”, and many of them suffered terribly, but the majority were not able to improve upon their former standard of living. Even if they were not able to achieve the economic success they wanted, they could be fairly certain that their children would have the opportunity for a better life. Americans pay a price, however; hard work.

It’s important to distinguish between idealism and reality. Equality of opportunity, for example, is an ideal that is not always put into practice. In reality, some people have more opportunities than those who are born into poorer families, in despite of laws designed to promote equality of opportunity for all races.The fact that American ideals are only partly carried out in real life does not diminish their importance. Most Americans still belief in them and are strongly affected by them in their everyday lives.

The six basic values: individual freedom, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, competition, material wealth and hard work, do not tell the whole history of the American character. Rather, they should be thought of all themes on religion, family life, education, business, and politics and continue to explore.

Good practices:

  • Learn about own.
  • Confronted a different way of doing things.
  • Do not assume that everyone does things the same way we do, our own culture: values, attitudes, behavior.
  • Get a composite picture of American beliefs and practices as they relate to education, business, government, sports, recreation.
  • Access to American television programs or movies, careful observation and analysis.
  • Get experience with own personal opinions to others and participate in debates and formal discussion.

Debate:

How basic American beliefs, values and character traits affect important facets of American life: religion, business, work and play, politics, the family and education.

Source of inforation:

Crandall, Jo Ann. Kearny, Edward N. Kearny, Mary Ann. The American Way. 

Purpose of the book: To help understand the cultural differences and accepting them.

Current situation: Foreign business people, visiting scholars or government officials, and even tourists are able to understand more of the values underlying American behavior patterns and institutions.

Cause: Immigrant and refugee newcomers find adoption by a systematic introduction to his new country and its inhabitants.

Effect: Be able to adapt, even if only temporarily, whenever it is desirable to do so.

Suggestions for reading:

  • de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America.
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Self-Reliance.
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The American Scholar.
  • Franklin, Ben. Autobiography or Poor Richard’s Almanac.
  • Hemingway, Ernest. “The short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber”.
  • London, Jack. The Call of the Wild.
  • Melville, Herman. Billy Budd.
  • Orwell, George. 1984.
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden.
  • Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas.