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Spectrum Perspectives: American Culture

August 6, 2012

Okay, just so we’re clear: the last couple months never happened. Yes, the reason that content on this blog has seemed so nonexistent is because June and July were illusions. Such months never existed. It was all a dream. Okay, now that we’re clear on that.

A friend of mine told me of joke the other day, popular among those not U.S. Citizen. It goes something like this:

What’s the difference between America and yogurt?

If you leave yogurt alone for 200 years, it will at least develop a culture.

It’s funny, but it kind of hurts. Now, I’m many things before I’m a patriot, and I’m definitely not a nationalist like many Americans seem to be, but I would at least like to be able to take some pride in my heritage. The joke is exactly right, though: the United States don’t even have a semblance of a cohesive culture. Why is that? Is that truly a fault?

–Adam B

As far as cultures go, ours in America is pretty complex. Since I only have a couple of paragraphs in which to discuss it, however, I’ll do my best to boil it down to just one word: consume. Many of us aren’t truly in need of anything, and as such we are free to spend much of the money, time, and resources that we accumulate in the pursuit of happiness. Our idols are not warriors and kings, but entertainers and innovators – the singers, writers, actors, and athletes. We consume their songs, stories, and shows with an insatiable appetite, trying to take in all the happiness that we can through every medium possible.

I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with entertainment. I’m a huge advocate of the value of storytelling in all mediums, it’s one of the most effective ways that we have to engage with truth and with one another. The thing that troubles me about this trend toward consuming in our culture is that we have, for the most part, forsaken creating, and that attitude has ripple effects throughout our lives. We take and we take and we don’t give, and we focus so much on what others are making for us that we never make anything for anyone else. No community can survive when its members do nothing but feed themselves, and no man can survive when he spends all his time eating and none of it living. So as far as culture goes, by all means engage in it. Just don’t let consuming it consume you.

–Tim Newton

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