Most peoples’ opinions of Americans are based on prejudice. Coverage in the media of things such as 9/11, the war in Iraq or even George Bush have lead to many misconceptions about American ideals and attitudes. Ask most people with an opinion and you will find that they have probably never even been to America. Many television shows and movies make jokes at the expense of America and they all help to perpetuate the American stereotype.
After staying in the States for a few weeks, I feel I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the American way of life. From what I have seen, Americans are a very proud people. Not just on a large scale but pride from a very basic level. Lawn pride. House pride. Street pride. Town pride. State pride. Country pride. This pride is often misconstrued as being close-minded and dogmatic but it is simply people defending their traditions and way of life. The term 'patriot' has almost become a word defining American pride rather than a generic term for pride for one's country.
At a local level, in America, this pride has many positive effects. It means that Towns are always very well presented with regular festivals and celebrations to commemorate local events or traditions. Local businesses get more customer loyalty and small town heroes are truly celebrated. The pride means that sports have huge crowd support. Not just big sports like the NBA or NFL but even smaller sports such as women’s high school volleyball get aired on television with huge crowds. In Australia, you are flat out getting parents to attend a high school game never mind getting television time! The pride means that those who serve the public are honoured and respected. I was fortunate enough to be here for Memorial Day and I witnessed anyone who was in public services from the Navy to the Police to Volunteer Fire Brigade being thanked for their work. It was ‘unAmerican’ if you didn’t shake their hand and thank them.
Unfortunately, this American pride is seen very differently elsewhere in the world. Most see it as being pig-headed and ignorant to other cultures but it is no different to Australia and its detention centres or France banning the burqa. They are just seen less in the media. I know posting this is a little risqué and not everyone is going to agree, but it is just my opinion and some food for thought. Feel free to comment!