Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What is an AMERICAN? Part I

Well, there is a question I had not thought about?  I was an American....but other than the fact I was born in the United States...how would anyone know?  The first time I thought about this question was many years ago sitting in a college classroom.  The question was one of those that just forced me to look at myself, my country, and my fellow countrymen in a totally different way.  This was one adventure that changed my outlook on not just my country, but also the world...and inevitably myself.

As a Security Police Training Instructor I had learned how to formulate questions to evaluate different aspects of that job.  One thing I learned in creating those questions is that the question reveals much more than an individuals knowledge...that truth is hard to explain in the space of a small blog...so I will not try...just think about it.

In verbal communications...face to face...Humans are able to express much more meaning than is possible in written form. For instance: "What is a duck"?  If you saw that question on a written test you would likely attempt to describe a duck.  If someone said this on the phone in a dismissive manner, you would think they may dislike ducks.  In a face to face encounter they may grimace while saying it and that might lead you to believe that to them a duck is disgusting.  Why is that even important?  It is because of the person who asked "What is an American"?

Dr. Chris Hables Gray is a progressive.  This is not just a label that I throw at him...he admits it freely...he is proud of that fact.  I respect him on many levels...this does not mean I agree with him...but I do respect him.  On this Adventure he plays a very important part.  "What is an American"?  He did not ask this as a calculated question...it was not a trap or trick.  It was as if an idea was being born.

To define what an American is...I must define what America is.  America, for the purpose of this blog, is The United States of America.  Although Canadians want to be known as Americans...they are not.  Sorry Canada, you must continue to live in your frozen hell.

What is an American? At first a seemingly easy question...it conjures images of Norman Rockwell, apple pie, baseball, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and the Blues.  As American as those things are...they do not describe an American.  It could easily be argued that baseball has more meaning in Japan than here in America.

What is an American?  As with any question that is asked on a test...you must stop and think. For instance,

1. What is an American?
  a. Freedom Loving
  b. A Hot Dog Eater
  c. Someone who speaks English
  d. All of the above
  e. None of the above

It has been said that your first answer is the right answer.  If you chose to not answer that question...you would be right.

If I were take two people...one born and raised in the United States...and another that was born and raised in Germany...and neither one said a word...How could I tell the American from the German?

This is where the lesser educated would say...well the White guy is certainly German.  Now that the stupid people have left the room lets continue.

Wait...lets invite the stupid people back...they have a point.  If this were the 1940's you would certainly not find any Black German Citizens.  Is the question time based?  Historically there have been Blacks living in both countries.  Legally, American Blacks have had the right of Citizenship for much longer that German Blacks. However, Americans are no longer of a particular race...neither are Germans.

Race is not a component of the answer.

Hold on...what about the Native Americans?  They are certainly Americans.  This is absolutely right..and although they were here long before Europeans discovered America...even the Native Americans came from someplace else.  So race is not a factor in the answer.

I am going to stop this post right here...and here is why.  I made a statement back at the beginning that I hope got you thinking about What is an American.  I will ask you to give me an example of what you think an American is based on traits that can be found in the majority of Americans.


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