America the beautiful. America is a safe-haven. America is a melting pot. America is teeming with opportunity. America is full of assholes.
I am so worn out every single day by the stereotypical American rearing his/her head. It is tough for me to even want to talk about the fact that I am lumped in with people who are so purposefully rude, entitled, and awful.
I am going to ask this very cliche question, “What happened to us?”. At what point did we decide that we were not only better than everyone else, but that they were not even really worth the dirt we scrape off our shoes? Why are we so rude? Why are we so damned self-centered?
I have a thousand questions that fit somewhere between the questions I have asked already, and still I do not quite understand.
I think the question I want to ask the most is, “When did we forget that we are all on this rock together?”.
Growing up I though I was VERY religious. I started going to an Evangelical Christian Covenant Church in Overland Park, KS. Yes, I am from KS. No, there were not cows in my backyard (btw there are STILL people who would believe me if I told them that there were). I started going to church because I was a horny boy who really liked cute girls (go figure) and there were A TON of cute girls at church. I was obviously a little misguided since the girls at church were not necessarily the solution to a horny boy’s fantasies. Aside from that, I soon found myself among people who seemed to be quite friendly, welcoming, and warm at heart. They were nice people and I enjoyed being around them because I was not extremely happy at home and it was a good place to go and be welcomed.
I soon became very involved, so that I could spend more time with the aforementioned girls and because I was starting to really enjoy the things we were doing at the church. Everything from community service to saving people seemed like good ideas at the time because we were “helping” God to make the world a better place. I was sold and it was fine with me. I learned quite a bit about myself during this time, which was the thing I remember the most and take away from all of my church experience.
The things that I learned at the time have been transformed and mushed together into different language now, because I do not have a God-centric view of the world anymore. At some point along the way through church life, I was in a conversation with some leaders who made me think outside the church box because I realized I was in a sales job (hrm…evangelical) and that was not the way I wanted to lead my life, selling a product I was not 100% sure about. The ideals that I picked up along the way however have had a profound impact on my life and I am extremely grateful for them.
The basic underlying philosophy that I gained was “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you” – or as I would put it now, “Don’t be a dick”. This is something that the typical American just cannot seem to get through his skull. Seriously man, as our friend in Boulder would say, “Put out good vibes and they will come back to you”. This is so true I am flabbergasted that people have not picked it up yet. If you are nice to your waiter, you will get better service. If you say please and thank you, people will go that extra mile for you. If you are nice to the guy on the phone you don’t know, then there is a good chance he will evangelize about you or your company without any extra effort or persuasion on your part.
I have had this philosophy presented to me and pushed on me and taught to me in 100 different ways throughout my life, and as a result it is now one of the main parts of my life. I think about this when I am making decisions about whether to excuse myself when someone rudely walks right into me, and to say thank you when a guy whose job it is to open the door does his job. It’s absolutely amazing the amount of good will that comes back. This does not mean that I am getting free stuff or wealth, or even pure happiness. It means that I may brighten a smile, or make my day better because I have taken the half a second to make someone feel like they are not my stepping stool but my fellow human.
So, why am I so angry at Americans for being assholes? Well, it is simple. I am mad because people CHOOSE to be assholes. It is just as easy to “not be a dick”, but a stereotypical American will choose to be a dick. I have no idea why they choose to be this way, all I can say is that if people would stop and think about what they are doing and stop putting up these walls then we would all be much happier. Not only that, but I wouldn’t get so stressed out on my way to work. Sure my goals by writing this article are selfish, but I feel like my selfishness here would not only change my life but the lives of those people around me.
Just think about a different approach the next time you are ready to just about rip someones head off, or you think that someone wronged you in some way. Try to look at it from their point of view. What could possibly have made this situation play out the way it did.
Stop reacting, start thinking. It won’t hurt too much, and you don’t have to take off your headphones that remind you to “Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out” to do it. The kinder you are (don’t be nice if you don’t want to, just be kind to people), the more likely that kindness will loop back around to you and give you a leg up when you need it.