I’m sharing this video from the list25 YouTube channel, because it talks about stuff that has been in my mind lately with this year’s presidential election. Especially since most of the people around me did not grow up in the United States, it made me reflect on why U.S. values are what they are. I think this channel makes a good point.
In the video description, it says:
The United States is a very misunderstood country. In fact, almost everybody in the world has a different point of view concerning what it should/could be and the media never helps. As big as it is, generalizations are very hard to make. Every state is different. Actually, every state even has its own military! To understand why America is what it is you need to go back to its roots. It was built by people trying to escape government. It was built with a wild west, this-land-is-mine mentality. It’s a no-government-can-tell-me-what-to-do mentality. It’s survival of the fittest and this mentality survives until today. For better or for worse these are 25 things that visitors will find most surprising about the United States.
I’ve also noticed how my thinking has changed from this. I want everyone to have certain resources or rights regardless of what they’ve earned or haven’t. In U.S. culture, there is an underlying assumption that if you don’t do well, it’s because you’re lazy and didn’t work hard enough. It doesn’t take into account forces that are difficult for an individual to control.
Of course, in pioneer days, people had to survive regardless of the forces, like those of nature, that we couldn’t control. And we helped our neighbor to survive them too. If they didn’t succeed, people suffered and died. Life was hard, but some people thrived.
At the same time, I am still leery of “big government” and “Big Brother.” So then, the job of making sure everyone has their basic needs met, including training to support themselves in society, falls to the “people.” However, I haven’t been doing much to help besides trying to raise awareness and consciousness. Maybe it’s enough, or maybe not.
As Ilchi Lee‘s new book with Dr. Emanuel Pastreich, Earth Management, proposes, both individuals, society, and the government should act with the Hongik spirit—we should act to benefit all others in addition to ourselves. However, the book emphasizes the power and responsibility of the individuals to make a change, especially considering society’s systems have failed to do it so far and considering that it’s harder to change those systems. Perhaps the United States’s culture of philanthropy is a ripe field for developing a Hongik society from the ground up.