American Culture as Petulant Teenager
I just read a post over at Imperfect Parent by Cristina from Mommy Off the Record fame. She insightfully wrote about Americans and our perpetual state of impatience and always being on the run. Now I relate to this post on two levels: 1. I have been the annoyed customer behind the man paying by check (who hasn't filled in ANYTHING until he is given the total for his purchase) and 2. I have also been EXTREMELY annoyed by my fellow citizens' inability to just slow down once in a while.
So as I responded to Cristina's post, it happened. The wheels were spinning and I realized that American culture has (d)evolved into exhibiting the same characteristics as an adolescent struggling to find his/her own identity.
Teenagers think they know it all - and you risk your own sanity, voice and hearing if you try and convince them otherwise, or they won't talk to you at all for weeks at a time. The infamous eye roll appears with the first uttered syllables of adult advice or discipline; they are embarrassed by the appearance and actions of their parents; and anything, including siblings, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, pets, even friends, that try to slow them down, that try to interfere with their plans - Beware the (hormonal) rage you will awaken.
I think, as Americans, we often act the same way. The overinflated, American ego is one of the worst - We certainly believe we know it all. We believe that our system of government is the best and we believe that it's so good in fact, we take it upon ourselves to bring our form of democracy around the world - even if we have to do it by force.
Americans certainly don't take kindly to being told what to do either. After all, when Dubyah was caught "bending" and "stretching" the rules of torture as put forth by the Geneva Conventions, all in the name of keeping his fellow citizens safe, what happened? We came up with our own set of rules and guidelines regarding torture, regardless of the worldwide protest against the treatment of prisoners in Guantanomo Bay, Iraq and elsewhere.
Discipline? We are the ones who hand out the discipline! We are above reproach, it seems. Let me refer you back to the prisoner abuse scandals or the illegal domestic spying program setup by the Bush Administration - I haven't seen anyone have to answer for that one yet. What about engaging the country in a preemptive strike against Iraq for reasons later found out to be fabricated lies. Anyone indicted for that one yet?
And so, is it any wonder that when our government acts in such a way, we as citizens act out, too? I mean, the thinking is the same - Don't bother me with your problems. Don't waste my time because I have other, more pressing matter to attend to. Don't get in my way or I'll run you over without hesitation.
So are Americans spiraling downward into selfishness and consumerism with no end in sight or is it that we are one step away from hitting bottom before beginning the struggle to create another identity?
Only time will tell. But if you ask me, I think the entire country should be grounded or given a time out at least. I am ashamed, not only of my neighbors, but of myself. We can all do much better than this.