Americanism and Individuality
Americans gather with like-minded people, but respect the opinions of others
In America, no two people are exactly alike. I know from personal experience that identical twins, if you know them well enough, can be told apart fairly easily. Every American has a different path in life; a different thought process and point of view. We are shaped by their internal and external environments into their own individual self. Being American means unifying around common interests, while also respecting the opinions of others.
While no one is exactly alike, there are still similarities between people. One way for people to connect and share their similarities is humor. My favorite comedian, John Mulaney, has a sense of humor that appeals to mine. I often find myself repeating his skits or lines from his shows to my friends or family. Some of my friends find it funny, but others just don’t see it the way I do. Not everyone has the same humor, and that’s okay. On the other side of that, however, those who do have a similar sense of humor can bond over what they find funny. It’s important in some situations, though, for Americans to put themselves in another person’s shoes, and to recognize that we’re not all the same, and that we’re allowed to have differing opinions from one another.
The American Bill of Rights grants certain rights to Americans that cannot under any circumstances be denied or infringed upon. The First Amendment shows up a lot in mainstream media, mainly because it directly applies to it. The idea of “freedom of speech” is learned from a young age through the news and now, with its increasing popularity, the internet. Many people use “freedom of speech” to justify their opinions, while disregarding the opinions of others. I find this to be un-American to a certain degree. Claiming freedom of speech, but not allowing it for others contradicts itself completely. Seeing multiple points of view allows for the recognition that not everyone's the same, and we have the right to think differently from each other.
Growing up, I was raised Catholic. I went to church most Sundays and attended catechism (extra Bible studies) until I was a freshman in high school. I had a particular view of the world that I shared with many of the people I interacted with when I was younger, like my family and some of my friends. Over time, my view of life began to shift from my previous view of the order of everything. Science gave better answers than the religion I had known all my life. Now with this sort of hybridized idea of how the universe works, I feel like I can see multiple perspectives on life as we know it. Part of being American is knowing about opinions different from yours and, in many cases, knowing when to agree to disagree. I’m not saying by any means that I know everything there is to know about the topic of science versus religion, but I find it important to respect the different opinions of others, and to not suppress someone’s constitutional rights.
One large platform in which differences are displayed and exploited is politics. Part of this is necessary, due to the country deciding which candidate appeals to the majority of us the most, however, there exists a sharp divide between many Democrats and Republicans. It seems as though many extreme Liberals and Conservatives will argue with the notion that no matter what the other says is wrong or that they are undoubtedly right. But for the majority of Americans, many people have their opinions, but respectfully agree to disagree with those with opposing opinions regarding politics. When people act this way, it allows for intellectual debates to occur without unnecessary hostility or conflict. American politics provide a medium through which everyone has a voice that they can choose to use or not. It can bring people together to share their views or to challenge the views of others. There are a few exceptions where debates may get out of hand, but for the most part, Americans tend to at the least agree to disagree on their differing opinions.
Most Americans were taught since they were children to treat others as you would like to be treated. Some may know this as the golden rule. This rule strengthens the idea that not everyone is the same, and that we all just want to be accepted. It is human nature to congregate towards people with like interests and to spend less time with those who have different interests. But as Americans, we accept people of all kinds; all skin colors and ethnicities, all ideals and morals, and all shapes and sizes. That’s what it means to be an American.