How Americans Approach the World

This is something I put together for school about how I think the average American would answer the following questions. These questions pertain to worldviews or how we appoach and interact within the world. I am not saying every American would answer this way, simply the average American if they had to be really honest and think deeply about these questions.

a) How do we find happiness?
b) How do we find wholeness?
c) What goals are really worthy of pursuing?
d) What is life “for”?

Obviously these are all simply my opinions and some of the things have only a slight distinction between them. I would like also note that most of my experience shows that the average Christian America would not answer these questions much different then the average Non-Christian American. The only major distinction one might find is that the average Christian American believes God plays a role in them attaining these things. Basically God helps them get the things they really want. As I said this is just my experience and opinion about the average person not all people.

In my opinion, the American Dream is still alive and kicking as the dominate worldview in the American culture and at the root of the American Dream is the idea of “Winning”. As a result that will dominate my answers to these questions for Americans.

a) Happiness is found in the working out of ones identity. As such Americans find happiness when they “win” in life. Being the best, getting more things, getting more recognition, getting better things then other people, having a family life that appears good (attractive spouse, good children, children who succeed), and having nice land and a nice home are a few examples. Happiness is found when one wins in life. The problem with this is that happiness cannot ever be sustained. Many have experienced some sort of success maybe as a student in a sport, band, academic challenge, etc. and understand that great emotional feeling of being the winner. In America that is defined as happiness, and it is not just seen in our families but in our whole socio-economic culture. We have the best military, the greatest economy, the highest standard of living, the most freedom, etc. which of course makes us the best, or makes us the “winners”. That is happiness in America.

b) Wholeness now that is something all together different then happiness because happiness is the working out of our identity but wholeness is found in our identity. So we are either “winners” or “losers”, and if you do not believe this take a stroll through the self help section of a bookstore, or through the Christian living section of a Christian bookstore. The problem here is that no one can ever come to the conclusion that I am a “winner” all the time in every situation, the truth is we mess up and we do not win at everything and not everything is within our power to control. In addition, if my identity is a “winner” and I believe in God then God becomes a God who helps me “win” at life and following God actually becomes about Him helping you get the “wins” in life you really want. This obviously does not seem like a way to really reach wholeness and this is why we live in a culture of depression, this is why our culture is all drugged up on antidepressants and our children drugged up on ADHD medicine so that they can “win” more. Sorry that last line was just a little aside.

c) Goals, well those are simple. Win at my job, get a bigger and nicer home, get a better car, have more obedient children, get more toys that make me appear to be winning more, make sure my children are “winning” at school and extracurricular activities (that is why all of our students are in lessons and select teams all year long now and do not have time for church or anything to do with God, even our kids whose parents are active in church) because that shows I am really a “winner”.

d) What is life for; well for the American of course life is about legacy. What also happens to a great “winner” they leave a legacy that people right books about, or make movies about, or ESPN or the History Channel does a piece on, or building and organizations are names in their memory, and on and on we could go. The ultimate “winners” leave legacies and life is about developing a legacy to leave behind. If you think this is crazy read some books on American history or talk to some senior adults in your church and ask them about the “greatest generation”. You will hear all about the importance of legacy and how other generations are ruining their legacy.

I hope this does not cause anyone to get to upset but causes you to think, if it upsets you then I hope it is because it challenges you, I just call them as I see them.

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