July 04, 2011

Thoughts on Independence

Vive la Indepenace
Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  A day when we as Americans celebrate how great we are.  We rejoice in our independence.  I am 100% behind being proud of our American heritage but as I have aged I see some things a bit differently.  Sometimes our free thinking, we-know-it-all attitude limits our ability to embrace or even see other cultures.  Does anyone else find it funny (or is it just me) that every alien invasion movie has the USA as the prime invasion location?  If I were an alien thinking about visiting earth.  I would probably not start with Ohio.  I'd hit Paris France first.  Maybe that's not very patriotic.  I apologize if I offend.

When we lived overseas I had my eyes opened wider as to the way other cultures lived.  There was a blind obedience to the rules in Asia that sometimes left me wondering if they were born without any will to think for themselves.  Here's an example for you.  One day my family went to a local amusement park on a rainy day. The park was unbelievably empty.  We counted ourselves lucky to be away from the crowd in a city of 14 million even if we were a bit soggy.  My kids kept wanting to ride the merry-go-round.  They were the only ones in sight and yet each time as the ride ended we were escorted out and around and through the chained line-designation space, through the turnstile and back onto the ride.  I tried through my often used charades method of conversation, to persuade the worker just to let them stay on their horses instead of getting off and on again one minute later.  She would not be convinced.  She had been told the rules and she was there to strictly follow them, line or no line.  I found this idea so weird.  Why couldn't she see the silliness of this?  As we drove home the thought came to me that perhaps in a country that has been oppressed by government for so long, free thinking isn't their way.  And yet there is room for admiration in that kind of blind obedience.  Too much free thinking makes for bad case scenarios in many ways as well.  In the USA we have far more crime, corruption, and people basically making poor choices causing chaos.  In Seoul Korea there were no guns, no crime, and no one would ever think of doing something to lose face and shame their family or their country's name.  We could do with some of that kind of pride (or is it fear of what others may think) over here.  American's were somewhat looked down upon by the Koreans was the impression I got.  We were fat and lazy.  We smelled like cheese.  We didn't know how to properly recycle.  The US soldiers drank too much and were always getting into trouble.  We had no clue how to respect our elders.  We were easy to take advantage of.  Sloppy dressers who let our homes become cluttered.  We did not push our children enough to do well academically, and were always overexposing ourselves to the elements.  Silly Americans!

So tonight as I hear the illegal bottle rockets going off in my neighborhood putting us all at risk for a brush fire I am thinking of the hardworking obedient people of Seoul.  The ones who would never be so free spirited as to think of doing such a thing.  But who also probably could not have produced the likes of Thomas Edison, Betsy Ross, or Joseph Smith for that matter.  Happy Independence Day!  Let's all cherish our freedoms and treat them with the respect (and boundaries) they deserve. 


Cheeseboy said...

Yep, if I were an alien, I'd want to hit Cancun first and foremost. It's beautiful there.

I thought the illegal bottlerockets were just in our neighborhood.

Great post, great thoughts!

Eileen said...

I agree totally. In some ways, China sounds a lot like Korea! Lyle and I watched a very interesting and entertaining documentary (our 3 big kids watched it the next day and loved it too) called "Please Vote For Me". It was the story of a third grade class electing their class monitor. For being newbies at the democracy thing, it was pretty amazing how quickly they caught onto the "smear campaign". And the kid who always practiced his speech in his underwear? How could anyone possibly take him seriously?

Very, very interesting. And not too long either, I think maybe an hour.

The redhead said...

Cheers to that! And I know some stereotypes are based loosely on reality, but I sure hope I don't smell like cheese.

Laurel C. said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on freedom... especially your insights about living in Seoul. I completely agree. We get quite egotistical as Americans and think the world revolves around our section of the continent. I have the same thoughts as you about living in a different culture. Such an eye-opener, and such a valuable experience. And WHY do the Koreans think we smell like cheese/dairy? A Korean friend of mine said I smelled like milk. I'll have the last laugh come osteoporosis time.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this.

M-Cat said...

Intersting thoughts and love your perspective. I do think we need some manners, respect and a lot more self-retraint here in America, and yet, am so very thankful for the very freedoms that allow for the lack thereof.

And I am with Cheeseboy, if I were to defect anywhere it would SO be Cancun