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The American way of life

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The American way of life

Our country has a tendency to ignore what we don’t want to know: from excessive consumerism to other cultures’ traditions or politics. But ignorance is not always the way to go.

Our country has a tendency to ignore what we don’t want to know: from excessive consumerism to other cultures’ traditions or politics. But ignorance is not always the way to go.

Our country has a tendency to ignore what we don’t want to know: from excessive consumerism to other cultures’ traditions or politics. But ignorance is not always the way to go.

Our country has a tendency to ignore what we don’t want to know: from excessive consumerism to other cultures’ traditions or politics. But ignorance is not always the way to go.

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It has been exactly 13 months since I came to the U.S. for my graduate education and it has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. In these months I have been lucky enough to experience all kinds of lifestyles. I have been a student and a working professional, a tourist and a local, also a Democrat and a Republican. I am grateful towards life for granting me such opportunities which has led to me learning so much about the U.S. in such a short period of time. Being an international student, there was a lot to learn and adapt to regarding the way things are done here, and trying to understand this country has also broadened my perspective on life.

They say, “Ignorance is Bliss” and I feel Americans have embodied this phrase so strongly in their lives which makes it so easy for network channels, corporations and governments to take advantage of the people. I, for one, strongly believe in this phrase, but I also believe that lack of awareness is stupidity. I say this because I was fascinated by how little Americans know of their own country. This obviously does not apply to all the people out there but I, myself, have met many such individuals. I lived in California over the summer and more than 80 percent of the people I interacted with did not even know that Michigan has an upper peninsula while the other 20 percent were confused on whether ‘MI’ represents Michigan or Minnesota.

Frankly, no one really cares if people know their geography but what bothers me is the attitude. People are strongly opinionated about issues they have no clue about because of some meme they saw on Facebook. Being someone who was not born or brought up here, it is so evident to me that news in this country is completely biased. An hour of flipping channels between Fox, CNN, and MSNBC made it clear for me to understand that news in this country is completely biased. Everyone talks about obesity, but no one is making an effort to do something about it. Supermarkets are trying to make profits by selling large portions of packaged foods for cheaper prices. Companies are trying to sell products with chemical additives and high fructose ingredients to decrease the cost of manufacturing. Fast food joints are enticing customers into having more soda by offering giant cups with a free refill. Many people are unaware that a small cup of soda in the U.S is equivalent to a large cup at the same fast food joint in many other countries. It is so evident to an outsider that corporations are manipulating customers to make profits and also why obesity is such a big issue in this country.

I love to explore new places and when I first came to the U.S. I wanted to do the same. Whenever I visit a new city, I was told by people to avoid some localities due to safety concerns and to not even bother walking on the streets once it is dark. It is mandatory for people to have a car in America because you cannot just walk to some places, as it is either not safe or there is just no sidewalk. Bike lanes are used as parking spots and if one does dare to ride a bike, they are risking their life by doing so. I have seen people usually wear safety vests while biking in residential areas to prevent getting hit by cars.

After housing, transportation is the next biggest household expense according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Americans have spent more money over the last year to pay for their cars than they have for college. This statistic might be quite saddening, but it bothers me further when people think cheaper cars are a solution to this problem. Countries like China, India and other European countries have already tackled this issue by promoting public transportation, encouraging people to use bicycles and by investing copious amounts of money in building infrastructure for safe public transport, while people in America are stuck in traffic on their huge 16-lane freeways.

All this may be a normal phenomenon, but it is quite absurd to someone who is new. And this is part of the problem. People in America do not know how life is outside their borders and they do not even bother to know about it. Some do not even know what there is outside their borders. Half of the nation collectively hates an entire religion and went as far as banning them from entering the U.S. Everyone has something bad to say about the situation in Syria or North Korea, but half of them cannot point out either of these countries on a map. Facebook and social media have become a source of news, while the “actual” news sources are busy selling a narrative to the people rather than reporting the news.

Post World War II, the American government started a propaganda called The American Way, to unify the country against communism and fascism. This propaganda touched on topics such as freedom and opportunities and emphasized the idea that the American way is the world’s highest standard of living. After more than 70 years, I still see a country which discriminates based on color and religion, a country where more people are shot inside the borders than outside and a country which lacks awareness.

Every country has its own set of problems and issues but America, which portrays itself to be the leader of the free world, has problems which have been solved by other countries much earlier. The people of this country, who are such highly talented individuals at what they do, need to be more aware and not let the corporations or the administration take advantage of them. Ignorance may be bliss, but “knowledge is power” and it is very important for the people of any country to be strong.


3 Responses to “The American way of life”

  1. satish v v devaragudi on September 29th, 2018 1:19 am

    Excellent observation and in-depth analysis. Keep going.

  2. Pattie Hartmann on October 2nd, 2018 7:33 pm

    I love this article. It should be posted on FB. Can I share it?

  3. Madeline Steger on October 19th, 2018 11:50 am

    Go for it!

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The American way of life