kestrel

kestrel
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2021-11-26 22:20:37 (UTC)

Prompt 142: In Defense of US Citizens

142. How do people from outside the U.S. typically view America and its citizens? Where do they get such a perspective? Is it accurate? Why or why not?
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Were I ever to come to the defense of US citizens, I suppose the time is now. I also feel like I must stress that I'm no social scientist, and my statements here are based on personal anecdote and observation. Most of my learning on this subject has taken place in the past 15 years or so: after graduating college and then working for a living. I'd transitioned from food service and customer service into adult education in the non-profit sector at a small non-profit employment assistance agency.

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Personally, I think it's mostly the "squeaky wheels" that provide for the general impression of the people that live in the United States, and it's not totally accurate. At the same time, I think the United States, as a -country-, is perceived accurately enough by those outside of the country.

It's unusual, I suppose, to think that the people living within a country can be quite different from the country itself, at least in terms of identity. But the reality is that most of the people in the United States are dirt poor and/or are in serious debt, while the "movers and shakers" of the USA are all glamorous, or powerful, and/or have the appearance of great wealth. Social media doesn't help with this image, either, with most people riven with anxiety regarding how the rest of society perceives them. There seems to be tremendous social pressure to have an interesting life, a large family, a large home, and a steady job. The pressure to flaunt one's wealth - whether actually earned or merely acquired as a result of taking on debt - seems very strong.

The pressure to pay one's rent or mortgage is a never-ending one as soon as one strikes out on their own. At the same time, there are vacant properties abound within every large US city. Either the rent is too high, or the property is in a run-down area while the property itself is mostly abandoned by its landlord and left to deteriorate. The result is a lot of real estate available for purchase or residence, if only it were in good condition. US cities are a poor choice to live in for a number of reasons (having to import all manner of food and other material goods being highest among them) but I suppose that's a discussion for another time.

Education is another sore spot in the United States. No one wants to be a failure. No one wants to be stupid or unlearned, or unintelligent. And yet, the education system in the US is a joke.

It doesn't start with the teachers, but they take the brunt of the abuse. Good-hearted, well-meaning educators are faced with an uphill battle from day one, and it doesn't seem like those that provided these new teachers with their education warned them ahead of time. Teaching is another field of work that is rife with burnout and dissatisfaction. Attempting to teach kids (or adults, as in my case) that are stressed-out, or hungry, or bullied, or abused... And with materials or facilities that are outdated or in disrepair... Any self-respecting professor of education should provide plenty of advance warning to their students that it's all stacked against them from the start, at least in the USA's public education system.

The USA has been a systemic failure in a number of dimensions, and the bulk of its citizens aren't to blame while still suffering the worst of the consequences. Housing, law enforcement, economic development, women's rights, prisons, education, housing, public utilities, public health, environmental stewardship... In all the areas where the United States might generate some "pride as a nation," I think it has failed. Its citizens are left to fend for themselves, and solve their own problems. The government can't be depended on to deliver for the average US citizen.

If anything, I think that the United States is a nation of survivors, not celebrities. Were I in charge, I would emphasize the survival of the US's citizens, not some over-inflated sense of self-importance.


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