How often do I pass judgment without considering another’s perspective? And how often do I whisper that judgment to someone who is willing to listen?
These are questions I have been asking myself recently. Because even if my judgment is accurate, is it edifying? The phrase “speak life” has been rolling around in my brain. But what does it mean to “speak life”? I have a feeling that I haven’t been very good at it.
David says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).
So words of life would be words that are acceptable in God’s sight.
Once upon a time, religious people caught a woman in the act of adultery and dragged her out to be publicly stoned. Then seeing Jesus, these people tried to trap Him by asking whether or not the woman should be stoned. Jesus didn’t pick up a stone, but neither did He deny the woman’s sin. He calmed the mob by questioning the state of their own hearts, and then He turned to the fearful sinner crouching in the dirt. “Go, and from now on sin no more.” (Jn. 8)
Those are words of life. Not words of ignorance or denial, but words that give hope.
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Continuing the discussion of stereotypes other cultures have of Americans, and why I’m still glad to be one…
Freedom of speech.
Some people may abuse this, but I for one, and glad we have it. It’s wearing to be conscious of everything you write in light of a government’s definition of acceptable and unacceptable.
Despite political corruption, it is important to realize that we still have a relatively uncorrupted government compared to much of the world.
A diverse country… in more than just scenery.
I love being in the city where I see a variety of people groups. I love trying out ethnic restaurants. I love those moments when, as a white American in American, I feel like a minority. Rather than feel threatened to be outnumbered, I am honored to be a part of America’s diversity.
Access to [almost] everything.
Sometimes it means you have to pay dearly, but it’s almost always there. Exotic Asian fruit. Aromatic African spices…
Do you realize that learning English as your mother tongue means that you’ve already learned one of the most useful languages in the world?
These, of course, are not exhaustive lists. What are some stereotypes you have or have heard of Americans? What are some positive aspects to being an American?
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1. Continuing the discussion of stereotypes other cultures have of Americans…
We are self-centered.
We are used to being a world power. We’re used to having our voice heard. We’re used to having a massive portion of the world’s wealth. So it seems reasonable that people should get on board with our ideas. It even seems reasonable that we should be able to talk to anyone anywhere in our own language. Which leads to the next stereotype…
We are monolingual.
Again, the stereotype is only a stereotype, but perhaps it’s based on a grain of truth. If an American is not growing up in a multi-cultural home, or didn’t grow up overseas, there’s a good chance that they made it through their high school Spanish and haven’t looked back. Why? Well, English is one of the most useful languages to know. Therefore, many people know it all over the world. So we begin to expect that others know it, and use it when they’re around us, not considering how much more challenging it is to operate in a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th (etc.) language. In our defense, it’s hardly fair to compare Americans to Europeans for example. America was colonized by the British and we kept a version (albeit an altered version) of that language. And in this mass of land, most everyone speaks English. In the Midwest, we can drive hours and hours in any direction and be surrounded by English speakers. In Europe, on the other hand, one might drive an hour or two and find a country or region that operates in another language. In short, the worlds are much closer and therefore the necessity of learning more than one language is greater than in America.
We are fat.
Restaurants serve massive portions. We eat too much. Maybe because we’re used to having so much.
We are rich. (Mostly from third world cultures)
Many this there is no poverty in America. Being an American automatically speaks of great wealth which you should be willing to share with those who have less than you.
It is hard to stereotype a monstrous country of diverse people. And I’ve only listed a handful of the stereotypes that are out there. Do any of these define me? You?
Most of these stereotypes are pretty negative. What are some positive points of being an American? Because, despite all of these negative stereotypes, I’m still glad to be an American…
Stay tuned for Part 3!
Living overseas among various nationalities exposed me to some of American stereotypes. Some of the stereotypes made me wonder whether or not I’m proud to be an American after all.
Never in my life had I felt so boxed in by American culture, so labeled. Sometimes people told me that I wasn’t like “that,” insinuating that “that” was the essence of American error.
Want to hear what other people think of Americans? Well, here are a few things…
We are impulsive.
We make quick decisions without weighing the pros and cons or how our decisions affect other people. This probably has a lot to do with personality, but there is a trend in favor of this stereotype. Why? Is it because we’re used to having things easy? Do we always give ourselves the option to give up when things get harder than we had anticipated?
We are loud.
This is another stereotype that depends on personality. I did notice a trend with Americans overseas. We were usually the loud ones, laughing, talking, unafraid that the everyone within shouting distance knew our business.
We are scared to be real.
We hold surface conversations and act like our lives are going smoothly. (Personally, I think this trend is starting to change with a generation that values authenticity.)
We are violent. (And everyone owns a gun.)
Hmm. Well? Look at the video games we have access to, even children. Look at Hollywood. We might freak out at nudity (reinforcing another stereotype), but without flinching, we watch people’s heads being blown off. There’s a lot more behind this idea, but I’ll let you unpack this one for yourself.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
A few ways I’ve been shocked by my own culture in the last months:
- Other kinds of foreign language. I approached some people in Aldi, excited that they were speaking another language… only to discover it was a butchered version of my mother tongue.
- The politeness of complete strangers, even if they’re not trying to sell you something!
- The constant busyness. Without lifting a finger to plan, one can manage to walk into a new week with a full schedule.
- The availability of, well, everything. If I can’t find it on a garage sale, I’ll pick it up at Wal-Mart or simply order it from Amazon.
- The quietness. No noisy neighbors at night.
- Menu prices. They’ve already made my eyes pop out more than once.
- Not needing to carry tp with me everywhere I go.
- The evasion of temperature extremes. Cold? No problem! Turn on the heat! Hot? Easy peasy. Turn on the air conditioning!
Little by little, I’m acclimating to my own culture… A journey that will probably continue until I leave it again.
The way he oohs and aahs over simple pleasures. The way he slobbers out motor sounds while he drives his cars and tractors across the carpet. The way he points at things with an excited gasp, expecting you to look in wonder. The way he giggles with Eskimo hugs. The way he “dances” when he hears bouncy music. And the way he sings in church– “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”
We met only a few months ago, but he has already managed to steal my heart.
Happy first birthday, Albert Harris.
A personality test told me that I am an advocate. That means I need a cause to fight for, but which one? There are so many causes. I could collect labels that define me as pro-choice, pro-life, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. I could fight for women’s rights, for the environment, or against human trafficking…
But who am I really? That’s a question I have been asking myself since returning to my passport country. I could become an advocate for any of these causes, but will I let these causes define who I am?
In a heroic declaration of national allegiance, Nathan Hale once said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” As an independence fighter, he clearly had a cause.
But what if those words of beautiful loyalty were assigned to a cause greater than any of the causes listed above? I want to be able to say from depth of my soul: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my Savior.”
The Bible talks about losing our lives for the cause of Christ. And when we lose it for His cause, then we are truly living. That sounds like a cause worth advocating.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ~Matt. 16:25