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5 Truths About The USA
It's Time To Clear Up Some Misconceptions
Hailing from the United States and knowing that my country is under a microscope, I cringe whenever Sarah Palin talks or when a new, annoying "reality" television show comes out.
It's more embarrassing than I care to admit, and I've found myself trying to explain these national embarrassments away whenever I meet people on my travels, or on the Internet. Or even when they're here visiting.
With that said, it's time to put some horrible misconceptions to rest. A lot of the stereotypes and generalizations people have about the USA just aren't true.
1.) Americans Are Friendly And Polite
But let me, as an American, explain. We are a country of immigrants and have been so since the dawn of the Union. There is a lot of diversity here and, contrary to popular belief, we are an accepting people. Of course, there are blowhards and knuckleheads, but those idiots aren't the norm. Here, we actually frown on those types.
If you visit our country, we will show genuine interest in you, treat you as one of our own, and make you feel at home. Americans are outgoing, smile a lot, and are polite and courteous.
(Pardon me. Thank you. How are ya? Have a great day.)
It's very American to demonstrate patience, fairness, to be accepting and to be curious about others. I hope one day you visit my country and find this out first hand.
2.) Americans Aren't Uneducated
This is one I hear all the time. Even some Americans are starting to buy into this notion, because we are as self-loathing as we are patriotic. The fact of the matter is that this isn't true.
I don't know how or why this notion was born, but it's time to lay it to rest.
Firstly, the United States still leads in science and technology. The gap is shrinking as global education becomes a priority, but it isn't a lack of trying or competitiveness in the United States. Other countries have just improved.
Secondly, the United States of America has the world's best universities. Seven of the top 10 universities are in the US, and over half of the top 50.
Thirdly, when you take public education and tertiary education into account, the United States ranks 5th in the world. To put that into perspective, there are over 190 countries. The US is ahead of the UK, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Finland.
Are there dumb, uneducated Americans who get too much air time? Yes? But, again, those people are not the norm.
A clip from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
3.) Food In The USA is Actually Fantastic
I almost have to urge to apologize for McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, KFC and all of the other hideous fast food chains that have spread like wildfire across the globe. But I won't. Why? If there wasn't a market for it in your country, they wouldn't last there.
That said, food in the United States is actually fantastic once you get away from all the fast food garbage. Because we're a country of immigrants, the cuisine is satisfying and diverse. In any major city, you can get top-notch Italian, Greek, Mexican, Thai, German, Irish and any other ethnic dish that comes to mind.
New York City is actually the food capital of the world. Most lists have NYC at number one, but it's always in the top 3 with Toyko and Paris.
The typical "American" foods are pretty good too, if I do say so myself. Pancakes, waffles, burgers, fried chicken, corn bread, BBQ etc., etc. This is why our waistlines are expanding so rapidly.
(Yes, the obese stereotypes do hold true)
Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher Discuss Religion in The USA
4.) Americans Aren't That Religious
We're just a bunch of Bible-thumping quacks, correct? A country full of religious simpletons and slack-jawed yokels? Again, not true. Not even close to being true, actually.
The United States does have a religious majority, as does most of the world, but we really don't differ from Canada or the UK in a matter of faith. Around 70-75% of people in all three respective nations identify as Christian.
As for church attendance, only around 17% of Americans attend church on a weekly basis (in some polls, it's even less). Twenty percent of Americans identify as "nones" and 1/3rd of Americans under the age of 30 identify as non-religious.
Church attendance and religiosity changes from region to region. Where I'm from, in New York, no one ever talks about religion, nor do I know anyone who goes to church. In the southern states, however, faith is a much more important virtue.
Ah, and then there's the United States constitution. A completely secular document that separates church and state. Neither god nor Christianity is mentioned in the US constitution. The USA was the first real post-enlightenment nation and was founded by enlightened, secular men. We are, in no way, shape, or form a Christian nation.
Bottom line: we're not the nation of Bible-thumping, god-fearing people you thought we were. In fact, we're in-line with most other developed nations.
5.) Quality Of Life In America Is Very High
"You have no health care, there are too many gun deaths, and you people are all fat."
That's what I hear about the United States all the time and that's why people think that the quality of life here is low. Well, again, that's not the truth. We do have decent healthcare (it needs vast improvement, though); we do have too many gun deaths (though they're at historic lows); and we are fat (but no longer the fattest).
But there's more to quality of life than health care and guns. One must factor in: cost of goods, disposable income, hygiene, access to food, access to housing, access to fresh water, access to education, cost of land, and job opportunities. In all of these areas, the United States ranks very well.
The United States of America actually ranks 2nd in the world, trailing only Switzerland.
The United States is not the stereotypes you thought were true. Do some of them hold true? Of course. It just isn't the norm.
Life here is pleasant and easy going, and there are a lot of opportunities to take hold of. Under President Obama, things here have slowly but surely gotten better each year: unemployment is down, income is slightly up, dow is up, and violence is down. Of course there is still room for improvement.
Our healthcare system got a massive upgrade too, and, as of right now, minimum wage increases are popping up state-by-state.
This piece wasn't meant to brag. Just trying to clear up some confusion.
Come by for a visit anytime.