What it Means to be American

Posted by Heather R. Montana

Unity is fundamental element in America, yet with the current state of politics and media it has become easier to segregate ourselves from each other.

‘Unlike many other countries across the world, the United States is an incredibly diverse country that overflows with people and cultures from every corner of the globe. Rather than being defined by a root culture, America is defined by the cultures that have traveled and conjoined in the country. This kind of unique diversity is a renowned quality of America, and arguably is the reason why so many individuals immigrate here. Our history holds stories of immigrants leaving their home country to build a new life in America and inspires hope for those individuals seeking the same. The United States is a country built on the strong roots of unification and the ability to work with one another to overcome. This vision of the American success is a perspective shared by many, effectively uniting us. However, as we’ve moved into modern America, our differences no longer unite us. They isolate us. Americans are so unable to look past the things that make us different to see that we all share so many things in common.

One of the biggest obstacles that United States faces is the overwhelming amount of political isolation and segregation that continues to grow in the social media age. Technology makes it incredibly easy to filter out individuals that share opposing perspectives and views. In theory this might seem like a good thing--being surrounded by like-minded individuals. However, this can be incredibly detrimental the roots of American culture and unification. Individuals that isolate themselves, create segregation rather than a unified community. The phenomenon can be very problematic, especially when the United States is a country that functions in a democracy. The most basic political elections become a war ground for the left and the right wings, when in reality there should be some kind of middle ground. It’s important to have strong, educated views; however, there is an equal importance in being able to accept and understand the opposing side. The United States is rendered useless as an international power when it can’t even communicate with the bodies within itself.

One of the biggest perpetrators of political isolation and political segregation is modern media. Extreme news outlets filter out any opposing views and cause individuals that consume this information to be very narrow in their outlook on political and social issues. The problem becomes even worse on social media, when users can simple block or remove anyone that has views they don’t agree with. John Gable, the founder of AllSides, stated in a TED talk, “...two very scary things happen when we have such narrow world view. First, we become more extreme in our beliefs, second, we become less tolerant of anybody who’s different than we are.” Extreme beliefs don’t allow for any kind of unification, they just pull the opposing sides further away from each other.

Joan Blades, founder of MoveOn.org, stated in the PBS documentary American Creed, “...I just have to go on faith. Faith that if I’m open and listening, some solutions will emerge and that it’s gonna take some patience because it’s taken us a while to get as dysfunctional as we are in the political system.” To overcome this overwhelming amount of isolation, it’s important that Americans immerse themselves with individuals of different perspectives to be educated and informed. Political isolation is real problem within the United States and needs to be addressed. In order to function as a powerful body, the country must learn how to unify. The United States is unique for its diversity, and that is a quality that should be embraced rather than discarded. Our differences can unify us, which is something that the United States needs during this time of political war.

Published on Nov 12, 2018
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