What Does American Mean Essay
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What Does American Mean Essay Example
The meaning of “America” or “Amerrique” in the Mayan language is “Land of the wind” or “Lands of strong winds”. In other words lands of natural power. Historian Phillip Cleason for more than 20 years was trying to prove that during the 20th century such aspects of political ideology like belief in freedom, self – government under law and equality, and of course ethnic diversity – America is usually called “melting pot”, were the dominant themes in discussion about American identity. He wanted also to underline that during all different historical periods of the American history these both themes were quite salient. Let’s say during the American Revolution, the term “American Identity” had more to deal with political ideology than with ethnic diversity. In 1890s – 1920s was a massive wave of immigration to the USA and the primary position would be given to the ethnic diversity on the contrary. Within 1940s – 1960s with the raise of Nazism and totalitarianism again the fist place was occupied by the question of American identity.
To study the ethnical differences in the meaning of being American is important on the basis of several reasons. First of all we would be able to reveal whether some uniform American identity is appropriate for the minds of people with different ethnical backgrounds. Usually the very term “American” is used in different contexts, like commercial advertisements for example. And a range of misunderstandings if not conflicts may appear if the meaning differs for all the ethnical groups. So America is to be a kind of “psychic glue” to bind the people all together across both ethnical and even intellectual territories. All of the ethnic groups have private language, cultural, traditional ethnicities, like for example Vietnamese and Mexican, but real American can include all these ethnical differences and gather into some common vision and appreciation. There is no place for any kind of intolerance, let it be either that which applies to Jews, gays, Catholics, Mexicans, Hispanics or the Irish. Strictly speaking an American is the one, who lives either within the borders of or is culturally affiliated with the United States of America, an American is someone who is a citizen of the USA. And what the citizens of the country determine is – democracy. American democracy makes a wager on its citizens – with freedom comes obligation and with liberty comes duty. Democracy is not fixed like monarchy, it is dynamic in its development, it is supposed to reflect the will of each generation of Americans. So we may come to the conclusion that the democracy is the most worthy from of government. American citizens are blessed to be part of this nation, but they have to show a passionate engagement, which means:
- demonstrate more interest in the issues of the state and nation;
- vote in elections;
- volunteer for some charitable organizations;
Join or start some organizations, which reflect the views and positions of their members and so on.
All the citizens are responsible for the tending their own democracy, for transmitting it to their children. No matter how powerful or rich America is or tends to become, we would never call it a “finished project”, and it is constantly aborning. And to take part in this process, one should not only be a person living on the territory of the country, one should be patriotic. To give the simplest definition to this notion – a patriot is a person, who loves, supports and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. Though, at the moment there is a certain usual stereotype of a real American – like baseball-cap, steak without vegetables, beer-bellied and with some cowgirl, but in reality Americans are recognized as people who work hard at what they do and take pride in what they are doing for their land and freedom. Being on the one hand proud of the place of his birth he is not to be discrimatory against others. An American is able to believe what he wants to believe in, this by the way makes some people come to America. And one can not considered not American, if he speaks accented English, American nation can not be called only Christian nation, as there are millions of Jewish Americans, some numbers of Muslim Americans, some other smaller groups of different faith, who are not to give up their faith to be considered Americans. But the fact, that different people view Americans in a different ways cannot be denied.
Much of the history of America is based on the country’s fight for freedom. Nowadays, the USA are the symbol of democratic government and freedom, which is of course one of the central themes of the American identity. Freedom should mean, that every American has his right to speak freely, to choose his religion, and the right to express himself in any way. If we try to follow the appearance of this country we should go back to the year 1776, when the USA were founded. Settlers got the chance to come to a “New World”, seeking for better lives there. On of the first really important documents was Declaration of Independence. It was the beginning of all the rights of a citizen. Though after the 11th of September these rights were to be considered as privileges, but terrorist attacks are to bring all the people of the whole country together to stand for their rights together. The country is still fighting the Islamic terrorists, whose strategy is to find und use the weapon of mass destruction, to bring greater damage on the population, to destroy the society and its culture and economy. This is actually the second lesson after that of the Vietnam War. American people were not fighting for some empire or individual in that war, but for freedom, this time the Americans are again set at war and have to defend their country from the attacks of terrorists.
There was one more document, displaying the rights and regulations of each individual living in America – The Bill of Rights. Everybody has the right to stand for his believes, and accept any religion he prefers. One can have a gun, if he has a permission, has right to vote (after he is over 18). So freedom can really help to define the notion “American”, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are the two documents that if in effect, can designate freedom for the Americans as a key point. We could say, that being an American means freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of choice, having free market and democracy; have a goal, a dream, there’s even such a idiom “American Dream”. If one is American he is allowed to be diverse and have no fear of persecution for that. How one could be identified that he is not an American, if he has freedom to be what he wants.
So to sum up all the above mentioned, to answer the question – what an American mean – we could draw out the following points:
- Being an American does not mean just coming to America to live there, it means supporting and defending the American democracy and the country itself, taking constant efforts to make the country better;
- Be educated and take part in the cultural, technological, scientifical development of the state, know its history;
- Following the established Constitutions and laws;
- Living in no fear of terrorism, any kind of social aggression, political enmity;
- Realizing that your live in America- the so called melting pot – and you are to take no neglection against any individual, who is different either in color of the skin or in his views or religion believes.
1.What does “Being American” Mean? Jeanne L. Tsai, Stanford University, Heather Mortensen Ying Wong Dan Hess, University of Minnesota.
2.What does “American” mean?, Rev. Sequoyah Ade, Aboriginal Intelligence/Angryindian 1999-2004.
3.What Does it Mean to be an American Citizen? The Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, Congressional Conference on Civic Education, September 21, 2003