In my wanderings through the internet, I came across one of those ubiquitous articles trashing the USA, written from the perspective of people from other countries. I don’t know why I even looked at it since I don’t appreciate such articles, mostly because they don’t reflect my life at all. What people hate about us are so often the policies enacted by politicians without regard to any of us — neither those of us living here, nor those living elsewhere. And if it’s not those policies that earn us such disregard, it’s the international corporations that destroy us as much as anyone else. (Why such corporations are considered to be American, I don’t know. Maybe because it’s easier to talk about how horrible the people in the USA are then point the finger at themselves?)

What stuns me is how much contempt people have for us while at the same time they have their hand out for the USA taxpayer’s money. (I read somewhere once that the United States should declare itself a third world country, that way some of our foreign aid could go to fix our own problems.) As for why we are handing out money — I don’t understand that, either. For example, we send money to China, yet we borrow money from China so that we can send it to them. Even more absurd, the people we send aid to hate us just as much as everyone else. And most absurd of all, so many of those same people want to move here so they can change this country to be just like theirs.

But none of that was in the article I mentioned above. It was more about cultural expectations and assumptions. Some people found it shocking that each of the states and each section of each state has its own particular culture and history and lifestyle. Others found the level of patriotism a bit over the top. Others were appalled at both the level of fitness in the country as well as the level of obesity. Some were shocked by the huge open spaces while others were stunned by the reality of the big cities, as if they’d assumed New York and Chicago were sets created as backdrops for various movies, even though neither are in the top ten of the largest cities worldwide. Some people thought the number of stores ridiculous, even though some areas (such as where I live) have very few stores. Some people were shocked that contrary to the hype, we generally are a friendly bunch. And on and on and on.

To me, this article wasn’t about the terribleness of the United States, but about the ignorance of the people who made these assumptions. A few minutes spent with Google, for example, can tell people that New York is real, and as large as it is, other cities in other countries are so much more populous.

Also, a brief look at statistics can show why assumptions of any kind regarding the USA are ridiculous, especially for those who are looking for some sort of uniformity throughout the country. Although the corner of Colorado where I live is approximately the size of the Netherlands, only about 100,000 people live here compared to the 17.4 million living in Holland, and yet this area is part of the same country that includes unwieldy cities such as New York, Chicago, and Seattle. And that’s not all. The USA and Europe are roughly the same size, though there are twice as many people living in Europe as live in the USA and 45 times more countries in Europe than in the USA. (45 European Countries vs. 1 USA country.)

So, what have I learned from all this other than that assumptions are simply assumptions and not fact? That’s easy. Stay away from articles purporting to tell me how terrible we in the USA are.


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8 Responses to “Assumptions”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    There is always lot of assumptions. And prejudice and preconceived ideas.
    But one information you have completely ignored. How old is USA as a country. That will help to understand the difference populations with Europe and USA. Historically and geographically it difficult to compare Europe to USA.
    245 years ago the population was in USA nearly 3 million ! (I didn’t check the exact figures)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s true, I didn’t mention the relative ages of the countries. Mostly I was trying to explain geographically why the various parts of the USA are so different — it’s a huge land mass, and each area was settled by different groups with their own customs and accents. Each state is like a country with its own government as well as customs, but all tied in together under the federal government.

      • Uthayanan Says:

        Except I make mistakes I feel economic and industrial revolution with arms race made USA economically and militarily powerful and different than others countries. But historically not a ancient country.
        With Native Americans,
        Historically America is a vast land emigrated by White Europeans, Hispanics and Latino (again basically Europeans), Later Africans, Asians,
        Alaska natives, natives Hawaiians, ans other Pacific Islander.
        But Europe is different.
        I feel demographically it is not comparable with Europe.
        If I make mistakes please kindly excuse me.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          You’re not mistaken. Demographically, the two areas are not comparable.

          • Estragon Says:

            My .02 worth as neither American or European…

            First, both have evolved a lot in the past 300 years. Certainly, some parts of Europe have a long and stable history going back much further, but much was FUBAR’d in the 20th century. Likewise, much of America bears only a passing resemblance to that of the 17th and 18th centuries. In many ways, the US with relatively independent states isn’t so different from Europe with sovereign states bound to an increasingly federal system. A beet farmer in North Dakota likely has more in common with a beet farmer in France than with a banker in New York, who in turn has more in common with a banker in Frankfurt. Few of us has much in common with our ancient ancestors.

            I had to chuckle at the statement “And most absurd of all, so many of those same people want to move here so they can change this country to be just like theirs”. This is a big issue in parts of Europe as well. The irony in the statement is both Europe and the US historically been (and arguably still are) among the most effective in history at imposing their culture, language, politics, religion, etc. on other parts of the world. While it’s true this was driven largely by government (directly, or implicitly through business and/or church structures), it also had/has the support of their publics at large. Reasonable people can disagree on whether that was/is a good thing (a mix, IMHO), but not that it was/is a thing.

            Both are very diverse places, and probably getting more so. That can be a positive thing if people can adapt, or not if they can’t. History suggests they can, but won’t until they have to.

            I’d be interested in reading the source article. In particular, I’m curious if the writer(s) actually spent much time in the US, and where. Even if I don’t agree with someone’s perspective, I generally want to hear it anyway.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            This was the original article. I saw it on a different site where people were adding in their own opinions of the USA, but I can’t find where I saw that one.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    First I must say I admire any articles of yourself and your point of view. And you have completely changed my negative idea of American people. Even sometimes your point of view is different than mine it helps me to learn and think in a different way.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m glad I helped change your point of view of us over here in the USA. We are not our politicians. And yes, I appreciate your point of view when it is different. You have a much broader view of the world than I have since I have never traveled outside of this country. (Though I have read widely. That has to count for something.)

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