Seems there’s trouble in America. Again. Thing is, that’s not a bad thing. It’s not unusual, and I’m not surprised. In fact, I really miss it.
One of the latest things in New York now is protesting a dual-language (Arabic) school in the city. Here’s the article with nice videos to watch. Watching this story makes me more homesick than any phonecall to Mom because it relates to my identity as an American. In America, there is controversy and conflict and criticism about everything.
What a wonderful and marked difference between China. In my American upbringing, I learned that differing opinions was natural and normal, and that my opinion was probably no more or less important than any one else’s. Arguments are to be expected because everyone thinks they’re right. In the states, we don’t make every effort to put a happy face on everything, as China does. Instead, we celebrate our diversity by loudly and proudly declaring our dilemmas and differences.
In America, there is no cultural norm to sustain harmony. In fact, in America, conflict is necessary and many Americans will agree that it is a fundamental element of our culture. Conflict was an essential part of America’s development as a country. In the early years of American history, government officials sometimes physically fought each other as they fought passionately for their view in the house or senate. From this conflict came our amazing ability to compromise and forge ideas that serve the increasing diversity of our population. Similar to the Chinese people and their culture, our ways served us very well. Brilliant.
That’s what I love and miss most about home: the fact that I can not only freely experience and acknowledge conflicting opinions but that their is value in doing that. Through conflict, Americans hammer out the best ideas because there is a raw, brutal honesty required. You must speak your mind directly and persuasively, know yourself, and understand that your ideas may or may not always make it to the table. You can be right or wrong, and you can explain your situation as you see it. Unlike China, making waves is not a problem, it’s the norm.
Unlike China, however, the down side is that Americans are known for being bigmouths. Selfish, piggish, and spoiled. We complain about everything. Nothing’s ever good enough. In this world, China smiles, America frowns. Both okay.