Germans poking fun at america cause me to think deeply.
| I recently read an article on the use (overuse?) of america as fallback humor for German Politicians. The article had a sequence that ran something like, "...America is too fat, too obsessed with exercise, too religious, too atheistic, etc...", and on with polar opposites as America. I realised that each barb had truth in it: models are too skinny, weight loss is all the rage, and yet we face an "epidemic" of record fatness. In conflict with the constitution on which the country was founded, we use religion as a base for our political leanings, but out-of-wedlock sex is popular, pervasive, and to an extent glorified. Church attendance is at a record low, and yet there are more people than ever, even as a function of the population, who describe themselves as "religious". These are all true things. I am reminded of the South Park episode in which the founding of the country is based "on saying one thing, whilst doing another". This also brings to mind the nickname for america in so many 1890's-era political cartoons: "The Great Melting-pot". I'll leav the original meaning of the term for future pondering. For now, I simply apply to it the interpretation as a melting pot of ideas.
But is that even true? In the same publication in which read the Translation of the German article, there was a separate article entitled, "The only thing we have to fear is ignorance". It noted Americans' trends for taking very seriously the "threats of the week" (currently child molesters around every corner and pulpit), and nearly completely ignoring threats that actually pose significant threat, like alcohol consumption or driving while distracted, both hundreds, if not thousands, of times more likely to effect a given American than child abuse, abduction, or molestation. Around the world america is infamous for its citizens' nonexistent knowledge of the world and history outside of America itself. Many of the citizenry take pride in this ignorance, similar to bragging about not having seen a popular movie. We trade bullets more often than we trade cultures and yet this mass of ideas is swimming here as if we were the original Akademy.
I can draw no conclusions in this line of thought. I need the view from the outside; I need to know if any other countries have a similar situaion, and that america is simply the most prominant or perhaps just singled out. If we are alone in our paradox of ingenuitive ignorance, then why? If we are not, or in any case, why does such a thing happen? Something ingrained in Americans? Ingrained in humankind? I wish I knew.