What is real America
Added: Thu. Jul 12, 2012 7:21pm
Posted in: Living
A brief flurry of exchanged emails with someone
did a hop, skip and a jump as they sometimes do. What started out with videos of planes trying
to land in strong crosswinds ended with a comment about "real America". I won't both you with the torturous path that
lead that subject, but I will say one of those hops landed us on greyhound
buses. Such is life on the internet with
Anyway, the topic dealt with what is “real
America”. I found it amusing that i was
exchanging email with an individual I never met and thus was real to me only
because my emails were answered. Perhaps
that suggests we need to redefine what we mean by "real". One of the definitions for real is
"having verifiable existence".
There is much that transpires on the internet that may have a verifiable
existence, but time and distance makes that verification difficult at best.
But back to the original thought about that
elusive thing called "real America" (rA). We often use the term to describe the
amorphous group of people living in this country who somehow, in some way, fits
our definition of the average American - what we believe the majority of
Americans to be like. They, combined
with their lifestyles and preferences, become the yard stick against which we
measure everyone, including ourselves.
The problem with all that is that rA is a moving
target. Even if you could define it
today, it is nothing like it was when I was young 50 - 60 years ago. What was average then isn't today. For starters, the population was smaller; so
were incomes, expenses and disposable incomes.
In hindsight, so was stress.
Other than the fear of nuclear war, which turned out to be unfounded,
life seemed much more serene. Back then,
rA didn't have color TVs, cell phones, computers, internet and cars with over
300 hp. For those who weren't alive
then, I will tell you it truly was a gentler time. Crime wasn't as wide spread as it is
today. There weren’t any home invasions;
in fact, front doors rarely were locked.
Today, I’m not even sure how one defines
rA. There doesn't seem to be one size
fits most people. In many respects we
are a much more fragmented nation. I'm
not speaking of politics, for as any historian knows, America always has been a
red/blue nation, save those few times when we seemed to coalesce around a
president in time of war. The influx of
legal Hispanics and Asians is causing a seismic shift in what rA is. And the illegal immigrants have an additional
Also, there also seems to be a growing disparity
in incomes as well as disposable incomes. And, for some reason, there seems to
be less religious tolerance these days - something that wasn’t part of rA years
In many ways, it no longer seems possible to
describe the average American. Perhaps
we need to stop using the average to describe the average American and the
rA. Maybe the best we can do is turn to
mathematics and start talking about the mode or median. Or maybe the whole idea of rA is obsolete.
I do know two things that haven’t changed over
the years. One is our capacity to help when other of our fellow citizens are
down. From helping the victim of a car
accident to helping those who are suffering through a disaster, most of us
still seem to pitch in when the chips are down.
Perhaps not as much as we would like, but still we do care and react. The second is when our nation is threatened;
then we become as one. There may be
disagreement when we are fighting a war in and for a foreign country, but not
when we as a nation are threatened. It
does get tough if the threat isn’t from an identifiable country (note the Islamic
zealots), but wherever, however and whenever the immediate threat is great
enough, we do react. Germany and Japan in
WWII learned that. The zealots and their
supporters better realize that.
So maybe that's what "real America" is
all about. Maybe that’s what we are all
about. Not bad at that.