From the archives: Americanization

Originally posted in February of 2013, this little
article is full of hope and pride, I think.
And it only mentions politics once.

Have you ever hear someone use the word “Americanized” as an insult? Maybe not directly, but in an insulting way?

I have, and it’s getting harder for me to keep quiet about it when it happens. Here’s why.

When someone laments the “Americanization” of something, they are speaking from a culturally conservative point of view. They feel like the old ways are becoming extinct. American popular culture is replacing traditional culture. While I agree that this is a regrettable process in many ways, to blame this on America (as a whole) is lazy and misguided.

The thing is, this very conservative view assumes that pop-culture and maybe current trends and styles represent “America.”

The qualities that define America are much deeper than the disposable pop-culture that most people see as “American.” In my view, America is about:

  • Integrity
  • Passion
  • Innovation
  • Determination
  • Ingenuity
  • Exploration
  • Inspiration

Obviously not all Americans nor everything American has every one of these qualities. We need look no further than the rape of the indigenous cultures of the American continents to see this. And it still continues. Politicians abuse their power in the face of American ideals. Look up Leonard Peltier for an example.

Pop Culture is about none of these ideals. It is primarily about making money. I’m sure that some who are involved in the artistic side of things might be coming from a place of creativity (innovation and passion), but I see much more exploitation than anything else.

Our forefathers and mothers came here to make things better for themselves and their descendants. I know that I’m an optimist, but I still look at things in that respect. If we are to honor the best of what our ancestors stood for, then we should explore that spirit of adventure that they must have possessed.

We need to:

  • Show integrity in our business and personal relationships.
  • Learn what ignites our passion and build our lives around that.
  • Live the spirit of innovation in our daily lives.
  • Decide what we want out of life and exercise our determination in filling our goals.
  • Use our ingenuity to make things happen.
  • Explore possibilities in our own lives.
  • Inspire our children to be better people than we are or can even conceive of being.

Finally, I humbly submit that the world needs more Americanization, not less. Not the fast food, plasticized, high-octane pop-culture, but the values that led people to explore and make things better. Not the pillaging of a continent, but the quest for a better tomorrow. Not glossy marketing, but close relationships and creativity. Not frantic homogeneity, but individual expressions of truth and honoring the same in others.

That is the best of America.