Friday, December 19, 2008

What is an Amrerican?

From breathe:

Many a time in our lives we come across questions that actually compel us to think. (Yes, gasp, /think/. As in the 'racking your brain and whatnot' kind of think.) One such question may be as follows: What, precisely, is an American?

Have you yet been seized by confusion? No? Then let us plow on.

Many people appear to have distinct opinions on just what an American isyou may have your happy-go-lucky 'they're-awesome!' person on one side of the spectrum, and another person who possesses a starkly contrasting opinion on the opposite end. But recall that perspective is relative; thus, one cannot quite conclude where someone really sits on the spectrum. Nonetheless, I digress. Let us move along.

Enter Crevecouera Frenchman, oui? Il est franais. According to this man, Americans are all about liberty. In other words, summarily: FREEDOM. And a great load of it to boot. His impression of an American is that they are typically those who shed their European heritage and embrace new waysor, if an immigrant, /become/ Americans. Furthermore, this Frenchman felt that Americans acted in self-interest alone, that they were and are self-seeking anddare I say it?/selfish/.

Yet another person, specifically President Roosevelt, mentioned that an American was well, an American. There were no such things as 'hyphenated Americans,' such as African-Americans, Asian-Americans, etc. And, certainly, there was no room for them in America, as he put it.

And yet another, namely one Dr. John Garter, stated that America is a nation of immigrants, which has resulted in an extremely skewed and 'limited' population, so to speak. His idea is that the more optimistic and impulsive one is, the more likely he or she is an immigrant, and, consequently, possibly an American. In his words, those who come to America are 'hypomanic.' Certain personality quirks draw them to the land of America.

Lastly, we have psychiatrist Peter Whybrow, whose theory on this is that there is merely a prevalence of the D4-7 allele, otherwise known as the (in)famous risk-taking gene. Supposedly, those who came here to America possess said (in)famous risk-taking gene, which gave them the optimism and courage to move to a foreign land and establish an almost entirely new life. So, now it's in our genes, hmm?

I am, quite appropriately, floored by the possibilities.

Personally, I have never quite paused to think, let alone ponder deeply, "What is an American?" With this subject matter, the answer isn't quite cut-out and dry anymore, nor is there merely /one/ answer in the first place. There are myriad possibilities, to be sure. It's just a matter of finding them within one's mind.

Speaking of Americanism, well. My personal opinion. To be perfectly and utterly honest, I am not quite sure. Yes, I do agree with some points brought up by the aforementioned individuals. Back to Crevecouer, then. Nay, I do not entirely agree with one of his ideasfor one, I don't quite appreciate the prospect of being called a self-seeking, selfish person (idiot)but he does make a valid point: Americans are indeed all about freedom. Or, at least, they seem so. Recall, if you will, the American Revolution. Did the former colonists not fight for their freedom, for independence from Great Britain. Ah. Well. There you have it.

As for Mr. Roosevelt's words: rubbish. (And I do apologize if I happen to offend anyone.) Why can't one be proud of his or her ancestry? So what if he or she (or ancestors, at that) hail from a foreign country? What's so bad about being a 'hypenated-American'? Technically, they /are/ still Americansafter all, the word coming before American is being used as an adjective, which, if you aren't aware, describes a noun. At heart, 'hyphenated-Americans' are still Americans. There is nothing wrong with being proud of one's lineage.

Dr. Garter's idea, on the other hand, proves quite interesting. Hypomanic, eh? Well. I'm not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted. (Although, accordingly, I am feeling a mixture of both simply /because/ I don't know.) There is validity to his statement. It does take a great deal of courage and bravery to dare venturing overseas to America, anyway; a certain degree of impulsiveness is automatically called for. Optimism as well. (Really, you think one'd be able to survive being a total and utter pessimist, think again, now.) The prospect of becoming rich is quite motivating, but the fear of the unknown can often nullify it. Thus, yes, Americans that have immigrated in do need some fearlessness, at the very least.

Finally, as for Mr. Whybrow, that there could potentially be an allele in one's DNA that makes risk-taking obligatory (because, well, it's the risk-taking gene for a reason) is a strange idea, but I suppose it has grounds. I'm not one for delving into the tiniest details, so I'm not aware of any such gene, though I suppose it is possible that one could exist.

Nevertheless, nay, I still am not quite sure what exactly an American is. Now, do /you/? Well?

No comments: