This is more of an observation than anything else, on we Americans view ourselves and how the rest of the world views us. And it’s such a contrast.
Of course, I’m drawing my observations based on my own life and articles I’ve read about how the citizens of other countries (like England, France, and the like) tend to view us when they come to view us. They do tend to see us as fake because the overwhelming majority of us are just so friendly. We as Americans have never had an oppressive regime over us before, and the only time we were truly pitted against each other was during the Civil War. Yes, we have our ways of thinking about each other. I mean, people from the North and people from the South tend to view themselves as being more intelligent over the other, but we also think nothing of striking up conversations with complete strangers in grocery stores or restaurants. And I attest to this because I do strike up conversations with random strangers. I’m a writer, and I can be extremely outgoing in the right situations. I hold doors open for complete strangers of all ages, of all walks of life, of all genders. That’s just how I am. It is not in my nature as both a human being and as an American to actually be a dickhead to someone else.
And, of course, there is this whole roots thing. One of the articles I read a while back mentioned how a Brit reacted to an American stating that s/he had British ancestry. The advice was to not laugh about it within earshot of the American in question. And maybe this is because someone from Europe might not understand the American fascination with roots. We’re like history junkies in that respect. We know from our history, which is somewhat short when compared to the likes of China, Russia, Japan, England, France, and Spain, that we were colonized from the get go by people who already knew how to read and write and keep track of history in a way that our Native American ancestors did not at that point in time. (IE written history versus oral history, which the Asian and European countries had long since moved away from by the time they started to arrive to the Americas.) We grew up being taught this knowledge. And many of us are still born out of immigrants as well. Again, this is something I can personally attest to as my great-grandparents on my mother’s side immigrated to this country, met in Detroit, Michigan, and started a family in this country. So we have that fascination, and when our families remember that history of immigration, of coming here from the Old Countries, we feel as if it gives us a bond with the people we meet from Europe or Asia or Africa.
Yet, at the same time, if we decide to look at it closer, this is the land where our ancestors came to break free from their roots, to start over with new ones. And I get this idea from reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I mean, he immigrated here, too, so he has that immigrant perspective on what it’s like to come to this country. Now, he actually doesn’t say this about immigrants and why they come here. It’s more of how it affects the gods of other cultures upon arriving here and how the land here changes everything. And I find it to be so true. There is something about the lands we live in that has some type of impact on us, a spirit if you will. As a writer, it’s a fascinating idea to explore.
If humans are born on Mars, they’re still humans, but they’re not Earthlings.
It’s fascinating, and it’s complex.
So yes. We Americans have a fascination with our roots, with our ancestry that goes all the way back to when our heritage was once tied to the European, Russian, and Asian nations.
And I love it. I love every aspect of it because it helps to define me as a person and as a writer.
Just a different way to look at the world today.