I am now on my third essay in my English – so called – critical thinking class and after two previous essays about gender and Hollywood hero-myth I’m onto American culture paradoxes. Such paradoxes would be, “America’s curious dichotomy between cultural Puritanism and a capitalistic tendency,” and “The contradiction between America’s materialistic adoration of money and possessions and its profound commitment to religion and spirituality.” This article, which goes on to list three additional paradoxes, is just more disappointing drivel not unlike the other articles I’ve read in this required school book, “Signs of Life in the USA.”
This article is clearly over-simplistic and unreasonably concludes that it’s a paradox and puzzling. I am concurrently taking Western Humanities 300 which illustrates the cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome and the same “paradoxes” are clearly in each of these historical cultures. In any culture there is always a necessary and healthy tension between two poles and without this tension and balance the culture becomes very unhealthy. A reasonable example of this would be the Victorian Age of ultra-Puritanism or the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s; these are clearly sexual extremes. Another “paradox” of my own observation would be that of the American desire to be potent in the world’s affairs and a power for justice but then people’s concern and longing for the deployed men and women in arms. However, this is far to general and the fact this is the tension between the love for self and the love for the community. My cousin’s husband is deployed in Iraq currently and while I’m concerned for both of them, I also realize what he’s doing in Iraq is important for America. If I only cared for the individual I’d never condone war (protection of community) and if I only condoned war (at all costs) I’d undervalue the individual.
I am sure there are dozens of other examples but there’s a difference between hypocrisy and cultural tensions. These articles, always found wanting, are such typical liberal oversimplifications of “Signs of Life in the USA.” Another example that comes to mind that they can’t comprehend, due to their lack of moral compass, is the rational for being for the death penalty and against abortion. Nevertheless, if it weren’t for this book I probably wouldn’t appreciate well written books and well articulated arguments.