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The American Character Continued
“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” Proverbs 20, 5
I think Americans’ mentality can be attributed to fairly clear causes: First, the pure logic of the French Enlightenment, upon which we based our democracy, and, second, our straightforward battle with the frontier, which focused our lives for three centuries on unambiguous practical goals and produced the outlook formulated by William James in Pragmatism: “Grant an idea or a belief to be true, what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone’s actual life?”
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This has bred a belief that we can reach any point the fastest with a straight line and we waste our time if we don’t take it and that any conclusion we reach logically will inevitably be right, a mentality I observe in myself. As a result, we see everything in linear and digital terms and have a linear, digital psychology, making us far out of touch with the vast majority of the world, because our mentality only exists in our world and not anywhere else. To drive this in, I point to Paul Bremer, Bush’s glorious representative in Iraq after the American invasion, who lectured the Iraqis: “It is an axiom that political and economic freedom go hand in hand.” And to understand the magnitude of this problem, one needs only look at the number of the continents with psychologies different from our own and the sizes of their populations.
Our linear, digital psychology further believes that what we see visibly, on the surface, is reality, and since American life only takes place on this level, we don’t contemplate anything under the surface or, in fact, believe it exists. As much as Americans may not like to have this said out in the open, I ask you simply to look around you. This creates a huge gap between Americans’ understanding and that of the rest of the world, all other cultures not taking place on the surface, but deep underneath, and what you see not what you get.
Our linear, digital psychology, furthermore, makes American culture very unemotional, again, in sharp contrast to the rest of the world whose cultures are highly emotional, often serendipitous, even those which don’t appear emotional on the surface. Since Americans can’t see this emotion and believe that what we can’t see doesn’t exist and we lack a cultural ability to read between the lines to begin with, we are blind to the dominant, most populous cultures of the world, in a globalizing world.
More direly, however, the conviction in our logical truth leads us to observe no measure in pursuing it, our logical truth conveying an absolute certainty in our righteousness, in the sense of the Spanish Inquisition, and because we are saving other’s souls, whether others want their souls saved or not, like the Inquisition, we have the right to use any means to attain this end. Our pure conviction further inspires us to wage this holy war with an uncontrollable fury, as if, otherwise, the world will collapse and we will succumb to innumerable surrounding threats, although we don’t face any threats and, in reality, concoct threats to pursue domestic political goals and increase the military budget, in order to give even more power to those who misuse it and who should have been removed from public office decades ago.
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