Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 28)

danger-angry-americanWhat happened next involved shouting, shoving & airport security.

I think the only reason it didn’t involve blood was because the other American girl & I jumped in front our raging fellow American, and talked him down.

Well, that and the fact that he realized he was outnumbered by a group of actual bee-crushing Israelis. And airport security.

In hindsight, I think those Israelis were trying to communicate with us in a direct way which agitated our American play-nice sensibilities. We Americans rarely express anything that directly, so we were pissed off by the Israelis’ bluntness. We’re used to p.c. phrasing accompanied by smiles & all kinds of other make-niceties that many foreign cultures just don’t engage in.

So, we definitely do not see ourselves as “tyrants.”

When we look into our national mirror, we see the good guys. We see ourselves as the victim of tyrants. When we war, we’re only fighting back.

Our national mirror reflects back to our eyes a country based in civility. We see saviors & heroes, democracy & freedom – hell, we are an example of this to the whole world. We see integrity, morality, decency, honor. And, hel-looo, generosity.

In our national mirror, we see a reflection of exceptionalism.

happy-thanksgivingFrom pre-school thru university, we are indoctrinated with this blameless image by way of happy-joy fairy tales, which we celebrate as truth.

Gone from our schools are the stories of our less shining historical moments from which we would learn lessons that would guide us toward the wholly virtuous image we imagine ourselves to be.

Our media helps embed this largely guiltless image into our American psyche. Gone from our news stories is the context from which we would learn the reverberating destructive force of our foreign policy. According to our news, it’s rarely our American fault, but always the fault of the foreign “Other.”

Our mercenary corporations leave us high and dry in favor of cheaper, more pliable foreign lands & labor. Our American corporate giants – with the aid of our media, which they own – hide from us the devastating impacts of their destructive practices on foreign bees who grow to hate us all.

And our government ‘protects’ us from an avalanche of dirty secrets that would jolt us awake, and shatter our carefully framed image into a billion bloody pieces.

shh-dissenters-hate-freedomBut, even so, we Americans believe in our exceptionalist image. Because critical voices are slapped with a blinking neon ‘Traitor!‘ sign. Dissenting voices do not make it into our news unless they’re first diluted with effectively nullifying labels like ‘extremist,’ ‘conspiracy theorist,’ or ‘crackpot.’

Those among us who stray from a herd effectively sheep-ified by incessant bombardment of messages of fear, are presented in our media as either the village idiot, or as the charging bull to be verbally slain in a public arena financed by the very forces against which these dissenting voices dare to speak out.

And we all participate in their bloodbath…verbally or with our silence.

The thing is, most of us rarely venture outside of America. And when we do, we seek those foreign places that cater to our American sensibilities. We return home, convinced by tourist industry coddling & catering, that we are loved.

Foreign viewpoints with lips that don’t pucker in gratitude toward our perceived altruistic self-image are as quickly discounted as our travel packages.

Like Cuba, we are an island — insular, cloistered, willfully segregated from the world at large.

But unlike Cuba, we have a choice.

u.s.-iraqi-war-casualties

We have the choice to command our schools to fill in the mac truck-sized holes in our history.

We have the choice to demand that our news tell the whole story.

We have the freedom & the power to force our government and our corporations to halt their bee-crushing, to temper their greed, to check their outta-my-way disregard 4 foreign life if there’s honey to be had.

We have the power & the choice to stop our foreign policy from doing things that make foreigners want to kill us.

But instead, like Cuba, we drink the Kool-Aid. Not because we have to. We do it because we choose to.

Because we live in a democracy, and we have a choice.

I want to talk to Karli about all this, but she’s asleep now. Prbly best. Cuz I’m feeling all teary & turmoily, and would probably end up raging & bawling…

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14 thoughts on “Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 28)

  1. Must have been an experience for you. But you’re right–outside of the US soil Americans are perceived differently it must be a shock to realize that the world “out there” does not reflect back your view of yourselves. But you, unlike most Americans, are clear-eyed about it. Intercultural communication ought to be strengthened, don’t you agree?

    • I do agree. I cannot discount the lessons I’ve learned, abroad, concerning our actions resulting in our image in various nations. An image our government & our profit-centric corporations have created – in contrast to the values of most Americans. I like to think that most of us are not as mercenary as our government & the practices of most of our corporations lead the world to believe. We really do care about the international community. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are not showing it by action – in large part due to the misinformation we are indoctrinated by in the form of our education system & our corporate-owned media. But we do care! We really do. And, as you pointed out, our “intercultural communication ought to be strengthened.” Because I still believe, as I did when writing this journal entry, that we are an island…removed from the impact of our actions on the international community.

      But I also believe that most Americans really, deeply care about our impact on the world. Please believe me. We really do care. But we are in a place, in a culture, where the information we need to know in order to act is being withheld from us. And even this fact is withheld from us. But many of us are striving to learn this information, and share it with our countrymen – in spite of the black mark that accompanies such action. No nation is free of dark chapters. But I believe there are many individuals in our nation who are actively working to infuse light. 🙂

  2. Heh. The one thing I thought of most in this post was how you are right – the media and people like to think of Americans in a certain way but I have never met an American that wasn’t just lovely. Sure, I might find that I don’t really get on with someone but that has nothing to do with them being American, just that we’re not meant to be besties. Strangely enough, I like Americans more than I like other South Africans that I meet in London!!

  3. I think as a culture we are full of inconsistencies. Yes we are sickening politically correct at times and then at others so outrageous it makes no sense to me. One thing for certain – international travel is very eye opening to the average American. It should almost be required (well, nothing should be REQUIRED) but it would certainly be helpful….

    • You know, I agree with you completely about international travel. I think if more of us did more of it, we would be more well-informed about our position in the international community – beyond what we’re led to believe here. But then again, there are many who don’t really want to know. There’s a weight of responsibility that comes with knowledge. Ignorance is bliss isn’t just an expression… 😉

  4. Respect! You are brave, girl!

    This reminds me of that classic Greek tragedy of Oedipus, King of Thebes. You know, the parricide mother-f***er who set out on a quest for truth and ended up learning that he was responsible for the misfortunes of his homeland and for a number of abominable crimes.

    Only, he could not handle the truth; he couldn’t find a way to respond in a creative manner, take this mess and transform it to sthg better — he found a way out of it by punishing himself, by plucking his eyes out. Most unproductive, in my opinion… 😉

    • Thanx, Eleni! Love Oedipus. But hated that he plucked his eyes out. You’re right, there were soooo many other things he could have done instead. Look at us…rewriting a classic! 😛

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