Why I’m not a Good American

…yes, you read that right.

Even though I am a natural-born U.S. citizen and have grew up in the country all of my life, I still don’t consider myself the typical “good, patriotic American.” You know, those stereotypical ones you see in the media (sometimes even in real life) repping their red, white, blue patriotism, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on the Fourth of July, and overall touting the merits of freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy and blessed to live in the United States and enjoy the privileges and benefits of being an American citizen. From being able to express oneself freely without censorship to having the liberty of choosing one’s career path (even changing many times along the way), there are certain rights in this nation that don’t really exist in other parts of the world. For me, having grown up in this system and having made it work well for my life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, just like any other country out there, the U.S. definitely has its problems. There’s always a negative to every positive: for instance, we are one of the most ethnically-diverse nations in the world and that leads to a rich melting pot of cultures that we can appreciate and learn from. At the same time, being diverse means the likelihood of dissent and unrest in the community, which can lead to prejudice and outright racism. Having been in the system for so long and becoming cynical of it as I got older certainly hasn’t helped me see the U.S. in a positive light.

Besides a rather pessimistic view of the nation, I also don’t consider myself a “good citizen” in the sense of American culture. There are so many distinctive aspects of the culture, from the food to the holidays to politics, many of which I don’t necessarily agree with, let alone take part in. (Interestingly enough, I’m writing this post the day after the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which isn’t helping the cause, but whatever…).

That said, I’ve decided to put together a short list of reasons why I, an U.S. citizen, am not a good American. Most of the points will *hopefully* be tongue-in-cheek and perhaps other Americans can relate to them!

5 Reasons Why I’m Not a Good American

1. I don’t like the food. Well…this is partially true: I wouldn’t mind having the occasional batch of curly fries and milkshake. But normally, I don’t crave “stereotypically American” dishes: while I can eat steak and ribs and coleslaw, I wouldn’t go out of my way for them. Admittedly, I’ve found American cuisine to be way too concentrated on meat and starch and, aside from the standard salt-and-pepper add ons (really, why do Americans always need to salt their already-salted steak?), the dishes tend to lack spices and flavor.

Maybe it’s because I grew up eating both American and Chinese foods (my parents are from Taiwan) that I was able to get a taste of the different dishes out there. Some nights, we would have pasta and potatoes while other nights we would have tofu and green bean stir-fry. While our Western-style dishes were rich in oil and cheese, our Chinese-style meals required a minimum of five different spices, including the famous Five-spice powder (a myriad of cloves, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, star anise, and cinnamon). At the end of the day, I would say that classical American cuisine could use a bit more pizzazz in its dishes…just saying!

Still, though…sometimes, hamburgers and fries aren’t a bad idea for convenience’s sake; just don’t eat them every day!

20160522_112557
Hamburgers and fries…oh my!

2. I don’t like football. Okay, to clarify: I don’t like American football. While the rest of the world goes crazy over soccer (erm, “football”), us Americans worship the flying pigskin like a religion. It doesn’t matter what kind it is: it could be the big leagues like the Super Bowl or NCAA games. The point is, this sport is a big deal for many Americans; it is a reason for family and friends to get together and have a good, riotous time, with chips and beer and tacky football jerseys to boot.

I think the reason why I don’t like American football is because it makes absolutely no sense. Aside from punting the ball over the goalpost, no one uses their feet in the game. I don’t understand why a touchdown counts as 7 points while a punt is a single point- perhaps due to effort? Even in high school and college with the school games, I never had interest in attending them…and never did. Especially when they went for several hours long, sometimes in extreme weather conditions, I can imagine that it could get boring after a while. If anything, I would rather watch other sports, such as track and field or gymnastics (then again, they don’t get shown on television often!).

3. I don’t like country music. While I acknowledge that country music is deeply-grounded in American culture and that it makes our nation “distinctively American,” I don’t really enjoy listening to it. The genre is just too slow and twangy for my tastes; even if I’m in the mood for slow music, I’d rather listen to classical music or R&B.

Country music also has the implications of being a popular genre for the more traditional, older generation of Americans which can been seen either in a good or bad way. Good as in that country shows us the roots, of our country and music simplicity (guitar, fiddles, harmonicas); there’s no frills to it and perhaps some people appreciate that. At the same time, country represents a stubborn way of holding on to our traditions as a nation, which over time may not be compatible with changing attitudes of society (from gender norms to race, especially when the genre’s artists are predominantly white). But personally, I don’t like country music in terms of the style.

4. I don’t follow politics. Especially when the 2016 presidential elections are coming up, and especially when neither of the candidates are very desirable at this point, I could care less. I am well-aware that it’s important for us to vote for the sake of our nation’s future (and I hope to do so), but really, to debate about whether Clinton or Trump would “make America great again” is pointless, because let’s face it: they don’t know what they’re saying.

Call me a total pessimist, but I don’t have security in our government, in terms of passing laws, messing with our health care, and continuing to send soldiers off to the Middle East to fight a war that isn’t ours to begin with. The system is messy and complicated, which I don’t blame since it involves a lot of red tape, but what makes it even more convoluted (even corrupted) than it should be is the money: it seems that nothing happens without giving monetary incentive and it is affecting how laws are enacted and which politicians are elected into office. I’m sure that there are some politicians out there who earnestly try to help our nation, but at the same time, you don’t know whom to trust at this point.

Before I cause any more heat in this post, I’ll just say that politics isn’t my thing and unlike many Americans, I don’t really follow the news. Might be an ignorant move, but at least I can have peace of mind, right?

5. I’m heading back to France. …and to live there for a while, just like what I did last year as a teaching assistant for almost a year. I don’t want to say that I’m a true expat, considering that I continue to return home to the U.S. for family and visa applications, but in any case, I don’t seen myself living in U.S. as I get older. When I was younger, I had this crazy dream of moving to Canada, especially when I started to notice the not-so-good aspects of living in my birth country (too expensive, too capitalistic, too competitive, etc.). That said, I need a break from the U.S., and living in France seems like the right decision to make. It worked for me this past year, and I see why it shouldn’t be the same this year.

Week 1 L'Arc de Triomphe 7-1-14
Arc de Triomphe, Paris (July 2014).

Although I know that France also has its problems, it is a country in which I can escape from the monotony of the life I have in the States. True, I’ll still be sucked into the 9-to-5 workdays abroad, but at least it’ll be a much-needed change for what I’ve been accustomed to all of my life (e.g. fast-paced, competitive, corporal). Even before I left France this past year, I went through major withdrawals, and I’m so glad that I’ll be able to go back soon.

…any case, that’s about it for me! If you consider yourself an “un-American” American (or one who doesn’t consider oneself patriotic to one’s respective country), let me know why! Take care.

 

— Rebecca

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9 thoughts on “Why I’m not a Good American

  1. I always thought we had it bad in the UK with the choice of politicians to vote for, but the US presidential election has really put things in perspective.. It’ll be interesting to see the result, since to me neither candidate seems a wholly good idea for America! Totally get your point about American food, though it was the portion sizes that baffled me when I visited- I just couldn’t comprehend people eating that much for one meal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously…the US presidential elections this year have gotten so ridiculous, even the rest of the world follows it! There have been French people whom I’ve discussed this with, and it’s scary that they seem to know more about the candidates than I do!

      As a curious American: how are UK politics looking right now? Are the politicians really that unfavorable with the public?

      Even I agree that the US food portions are unreasonably large; when I go out to eat (and actually finish the plate), I’m done for the rest of the day!

      Like

      1. It’s just ended up so ludicrous, and there’s another few months til one or other of them actually becomes president! The sad thing is, from an outsider/ non-American’s perspective, neither candidate looks like that great an option – it’s seems to be a “lesser of two evils” sort of choice. The British political scene is still very centred on Brexit and the results of it; all I know is through BBC news, so not much, but it seems like a mixed bag. Some articles claim we’re already seeing the benefits, others claim the worst is yet to come. I think there’s a bit of resent towards Theresa May from some people, as she wasn’t elected by the people, and obviously the Labour party are in turmoil (who knows where that will end up!) – sometimes it feels like they’re acting like children and just need to grow up and get on with running the country!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Brexit was definitely a shock back in June; I was even surprised that it actually happened. So many people were upset about it, and I couldn’t help but worry for the security of Britain’s future. Then again, I don’t know everything about it, so maybe it’ll somehow work out.

        I liken the candidates in this year’s US presidential elections to a pair of 7-year-olds whining about each other’s faults and not focusing on bigger issues like how to improve the economy or deal with our almost $20 trillion debt (not that 7-year-olds have the experience to solve these issues, but you get the idea). I don’t recall the level of muckraking was this bad back in 2008, even 2012, and it just makes me shake my head in shame.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was so shocked by Brexit – I thought my boyfriend was joking when he told me the morning the results were out. I was gutted (especially as it made the pound so weak right as I was going away) but ultimately we just have to move forward and hope for the best – even if the EU cuts us a bad deal on leaving. That just about sums up the US presidential candidates perfectly – it feels like they’re just clutching at straws to out-do each other, and there don’t seem to be any limits on how far they’re prepared to go.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think you’re alone in not really following politics or reading the news. I have family in politics, so I do try to stay up on it (side effects of living in DC, haha) but it’s getting to be just absurd. I’m happy to be leaving the country for the end, right until I imagine all of the questions I’m about to be asked about Trump while abroad……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re definitely right. I’ve already had French friends/colleagues asked me about my thoughts on the presidential elections. I admit, I’m kind of sick of hearing the question “so who are you going to vote for?” so many times, and I can’t wait until all of this is over, for better or for the worse!

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