You Will Have A Better Love and Life Beyond
Propaganda vs. Real Life in
“America is a country that is built for doing business, not living life.“
- an Asian
American Expat in Europe
"Everything you wrote in your treatise is precisely to the point… It took me a while to realize that there was a chasm of difference between the media picture of America and real life, but when the truth hit home, I felt very disappointed and empty. I even had a lapse of self-condemnation as I thought the problem was in me. I have gotten over it now and can see clearly. Your writing puts all the pieces of the puzzle together very well." - Yuri, Russian immigrant
As we all
know, the media propaganda image in
despite this image, here's the big picture
about how things work in
reality, the majority of people in this country
live in slavery to their jobs just so they can keep up with
and make ends meet. They never live the American dream. And
myth of “individual freedom” for all in
here is what the typical life of the typical
married man in
The life of the typical married American man:
“He has a wife, some kids, a mortgaged house, two cars or SUV’s, many bills to pay, and a stable job to support all of it. Each morning, he and his wife get up, get the kids ready for school, make coffee, and then they both go to work (or at least he does). After a 8-9 hour workday, he comes home and tries to relax in front of the TV, but often has very little time to do so, because he might have to help make dinner, talk to his wife and kids (which usually consists of clicheish pep talk around the dinner table), help do household chores, help the kids with their homework, get the kids ready for bed, and then go to bed himself, often still exhausted. The next day, the same routine simply starts all over again.
On weekends, he gets a little more freedom, but not by much. Instead, he has to spend a large part of the weekend catching up on household chores, cleaning the house, or doing yard work. If he can manage to do a family outing, it is often too stressful to enjoy. Not only does he have to constantly watch and discipline the kids from getting out of hand, but he has to think about his budget for the family outing, driving and planning where to go, humoring the kids, lecturing them and giving them clicheish pep talk, making sure his wife is pleased with the outing too, and making sure they get back home in time before the kids’ bedtime. That’s why these family outings are usually exhausting and more stressful than fun.
Sometimes, he and his wife also go out to social events sponsored by schools, companies, churches or the community. But even then, these events tend to be rigid, routine, dull and clicheish. In addition, around the people at these events, he puts on a contrived pleasant face to be polite, regardless of whether he likes them or not, and others at the events do the same to him as well. People at these events don’t deeply enjoy them. Instead, they simply pretend to. Deep down, they know it is just a light distraction from the routine monotony of their daily lives.
In the background of all this are the constant pressures and demands of the bills he has to keep up with as well as the savings he has to allocate. He has to deal with the big house mortgage payments, utility bills, taxes, car insurance payments, medical insurance bills (unless his company pays all or most of it), food and gas expenditures, credit card bills, entertainment/luxury item expenditures, the needs and wants of his kids and wife, etc. In addition to all this, he has to also try to save up some money for his retirement or his kids’ college fund.
Each day that goes by, each week, each month, each year, etc. is pretty much like the above. That’s life for him. Eventually, he may start asking himself “Is this what life is all about? Is this all there is?” Then he may start feeling like a robot leadin chanized life with no freedom. Not only is he a slave to his company, but he is a slave to his wife, kids, house, cars and bills as well. Sadly he learns that there is no true freedom in all this. Not only is this life routine and stressful, but mind-numbing as well. Eventually, he may start to long for the life he had before when he was single and could do whatever he wanted without his current stresses that enslave him. He may long for the time when he was young and single and could choose from many paths in life without anyone tying him down, as well as his freedom to pursue or love conquests with new and exciting women. He may still love his wife and have affection for her, but the romance and passion may be long gone, and they stay together simply for financial commitments and for the sake of the kids. In fact, he may even start to envy the life of the traveling backpackers to overseas countries who, although are poor and on a budget, nevertheless live a life of adventure and mind-expanding freedom.
To cope with this mind numbing routine and stress, he may find ways to distract himself. He may seek acceptable forms of escape such as becoming a sports fan and watching football, baseball, or basketball. These spectator sports provide a temporary distraction from his inner emptiness. Or he may develop other hobbies such as reading, or becoming a handyman on cars and houses (like Tim Allen does on the sitcom Home Improvement). And of course, he must constantly convince himself that his life has meaning because he is doing what God and his country told him he is supposed to do by raising a family, and that it is all for the good of his kids and wife who are depending on him. No matter how dull, stressful, or mind numbing his life is, that’s what he has got to tell himself every day in order to tolerate and endure his conditions.”
The above is a sad grim picture but this is the case with many American males, and this is all underreported by our media of course. Some may find this routine lifestyle comfortable, but others loathe it because they realize that their minds and souls will never be expanded by it, but instead contracted into robotic conformity without freedom.
Even some American women and suburban soccer moms living the American dream feel the same way, as in the case of this lady who wrote me:
I have never responded to a blog before or whatever they are called. I found your essay about american consumerism on planet essay and was inspired to write to you.
I read your essay I felt like you were telling my story, except that I
am a 40
year old female living in
Do you have any advice?”
(My response: Not really, unfortunately. You just have to find every opportunity you can to do what you love and try to maintain a healthy balance between your other priorities, as well as a workable compromise. In the meantime, you can try to live vicariously through people like me :))
Our “culture” is completely based on HYPE and CONSUMERISM along with EXCESS CONSUMPTION. Life is all about what you can BUY next. And that’s why mainstream Americans do not seem as evolved or enlightened as mainstream Europeans for example, to put it bluntly (no offense to anyone intended). Europeans in general obviously have a lot more soul and intellect than average Americans, particularly among the young population.
reality, there are few redeeming qualities to
Russian girl from
“To be honest i don't like
Asian American reader gave this conclusion of
Interesting to read your writing on
Interestingly enough, a Russian immigrant who read an earlier version of this treatise, had a bout with self-condemnation before he becoming enlightened:
“Anyway, to cut a long
everything you wrote in your treatise is precisely to the point. I am a
who has lived in the States long enough to know. I came to the country
expecting to find some flavor, as I had been able to do in
I took me a while to realize that there was a chasm of difference between the media picture of
And an African American man on my list vociferated:
“You can tell most
people in other parts
of the world are more cultured and morally more disciplined than most
Americans. Most Americans think possessing material wealth is being
and that they are socially more superior than other races…What
an ILLUSION in
their mind!!... They unfortunately so believe their illusions they fail
realize they are dead WRONG!
Similarly, a Russian American male immigrant I know had this to say in response to my observation that US women are the least friendly to strangers and the most paranoid in the world.
It is good you noticed the difference. But it is not only women it is all americans are very different. Americans have empty eyes. Even those people on TV. Because there is no soul in this country only money.“
Back in college, a Greek friend used to often tell me:
“Americans have no inner life. All they do is consume!”
Suffice to say, an “inner life” isn’t something that can be quantified or described with mere words. Those who have it know what it is. And those who don’t have one, can’t see one with a mere description.
Perceptions like in the above are a lot more common than you might think. I’ve heard many such views from US immigrants, foreigners, and Europeans. In fact, I’d estimate that about 80 to 90 percent of Europeans feel that way about our lifestyle.
wonder why if so many immigrants in the
European countries, in work situations you get
2 hour lunch breaks and 6 hour work days, ending around 4pm or so. And you get a
obsession with work in
of being poor in
“What I have noticed as a difference between the
Add to that that it is far easier to really hit rock bottom in the
Another aspect is that Americans just work damned hard, long hours. They need to, to make the money it takes to live up to a certain material standard. They have precious little time with their families as it is. Far less time then is standard in most countries in
When our society constantly perpetuates excess consumption and material desires with hype, our general focus becomes on the outward rather than the inward. People are judged based on what they have, which creates their status. As a result, we lose touch with our inner selves, have no true self-confidence/self-esteem, and therefore have fragile egos dependent on outer things and material possessions. It’s no wonder then that in general, I notice that people abroad have richer and refined inner lives than Americans.
has no inner life and totally depends on the
outer, as most Americans do, then when things in the outer life go
wrong or become
stagnant, one becomes disrupted as well. Such a person is
victim of circumstance with no inner foundation to rely on. As a result, one is left to having to resort
to feigning outward happiness, rather than have true inward
I’ve heard it said that there seems to be an inverse relationship
happiness and material assets. In fact, according to studies, the
rated with the happiest people in the world is
generally live mind-numbing lives in
mind-numbing environments (especially in suburban
nowadays (especially in
filling people with substance or reality,
it instills them with consumerist hype.
to keep them motivated with these conditions,
people in the
people in the country feel empty, and seek
distractions in shallow stimulation because they don't know what else
do. Some don't even realize that they feel empty, because they
keep busy distracting themselves with something. And plus, you
to feel empty if you have a job, house, and family, which represent the
life. You are supposed to be
fulfilled by being able to buy things, hence the consumerist
culture of ours. Nevertheless, many in
no surprise then that those who thrive on the
intellect or soul often struggle and feel alienated in mainstream
Ironically, though mainstream Americans are conformists to the system, they see themselves as individualistic. Such may seem to be a discrepancy, but perhaps it depends on your reference point, as I'm sure average Americans do not see themselves as conformists. Instead, they see the way they "conform" to the system like zombies as simply the way of normal real life. Perhaps their sense of individualism is a delusion. It depends on your point of view, but one person explained the seeming discrepancy to me like this:
in the way they pursue goals- they do not work well in groups or pairs.
to do each one his own thing. So, they meet for convenience and then
one going his own way.
Conforming is in the way one speaks and dresses and acts. But goals are something totally different.”
look at the big picture of how things are in
One of the
places where this is the most true is in
In fact, conformity is even more important than honesty. And contrary to the old adage, honesty has never been the best policy. In fact, more often than not honesty gets you into trouble and is used against you. But conformity gets you much farther. What this means is that being yourself can get you into trouble, but pretending to conform gets you accepted. That is a very sad state of affairs.
Even my own dad, who has always led a very stable life, admitted that I was right about this. In an email, he wrote:
I totally agree with this. Conformity is the key to success and acceptance in this society, not right or wrong, not so much about being yourself, or unnecessary honesty.
In addition, even after conforming, in order to keep your job, you pretty much have to center your life around it and make its needs your top priority. The reason is pragmatically obvious. If you don’t live and breathe your work and center your life around it, your company will simply replace you with someone who IS willing to do that. It’s as simple as that. In order to compete, thrive, and expand in the American economy, the company has to have employees who are willing to live and breathe their job. And in order to insure your long term economic stability, you’ve got to place your company’s needs above yours. In effect, you are forced to be a servant for your own good. That’s how it is.
don’t mean to over-generalize here. I
On a related point, the few who thrive in this system are given all the praise and glory, whereas those who don't thrive in these conditions are PERSECUTED, directly and indirectly, in many ways. They are made to feel inadequate, since they are compared to others who thrive, and deprived of resources and social status. They are also told either directly or indirectly that there is something wrong with them. It's an unfair ungodly punishment on those who don't thrive or fit in or find a niche in our society.
constant psychological pressure is what makes our
In fact, I
think that nowhere else in the world are
people who don't fit in are stripped of ego and self-worth the way they
here (by society and culture, not by the government). It's no
we have the highest rate of mental illness in this country, and that
the serial killers in the world are from
Competition is the basis of our culture and economy, and therefore becomes our mentality as well. This means that people either have money, or they are striving to be better than everyone else. This competitive mentality eventually leads us to become more "stuck up" toward others than we would otherwise be. We evaluate others in terms of their worth, and compare ourselves to them. This creates a rivalry mentality that leads fellow human beings in our country to see each other as opponents or adversaries. And sadly enough, having a lot of money and material possessions changes your attitude toward others, making you more spoiled and "stuck up".
other hand, countries like
the dreaded brutal reality here. In
Lithuanian critic of
“I see that in this cutthroat
society, based on a
"greed is good" philosophy, unlimited profit seeking, selfishness,
fraud and greediness for money dominates everywhere. Money is
bottom line for everything. In
He further concludes:
“I am of the opinion that American capitalism is incompatible with humaneness. Moreover, this inhumane system has led to the moral bankruptcy of American society, which has bred the alienation of people, breakdown of families, enormous crime and the drug epidemics.”
And one of my eloquent readers vehemently stated:
“This country is based on the "all, not so mighty dollar". It makes me sick to my stomach. We are taught from the beginning to go to school, get a good education so you can find a good paying job so you can acquire as much useless debt as possible and pay the rest of your life. Even then, the cars, houses etc don't belong to you because you only receive a deed or a certificate of title. The government owns it all. Many people here don't believe it but I always ask, Why do you pay property taxes every year and why do you have to have a drivers license, with insurance, registration and inspection. The answer I get, "It's the law". What law? The law only exists in your minds if you realize that everything applies to your corporate body and not your natural person(human being). Most people don't even have a clue and look at you strange when you say this. American people in general are the most plastic people in the world literally. I mean, it seems just about everyone lives on credit. I did for a while and found out the truth and stopped paying on my own credit.”
Elaborating on the assertion that not only are Americans “plastic” people, but that they live on “plastic” as well, he writes:
“What people around the world don't
understand is that
There is this laughably
ridiculous notion in our country that Capitalism is based on and
by Judeo-Christian values. Nothing could be further from the
Anyone with even a surface knowledge of the two could see that there
obvious fundamental conflicts.
Capitalism teaches that greed is good, benefiting the economy
oneself, while Christian teachings and Bible passages clearly teach
is bad, wicked, and leads to destruction. Also, Capitalism
selfishness and profit motive is good, and that one should win at all
while Christianity teaches selflessness, humility, giving up worldly
desires, and servitude to the Lord. A Bible passage even
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for
man to enter the
So why do the Capitalists in this country try to pretend that they both support each other? It seems like a pathetic attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.
Perhaps at the root of this problem is an outdated ideology that amassing wealth and private property equals freedom, an idea borrowed from the European Enlightenment era of the 18th Century. Jeremy Rifkin explains this in his book The European Dream, page 158:
"Most of my European friends
acquaintances are quick to ridicule
But the point is, it was the American people that became the purest advocates of the European Enlightenment idea that equates private property with freedom.”
we can conclude that the
that this is all a good thing of course,
with all the technological improvements and comforts that
In many other countries, people are focused around culture and family solidarity. However, America's foreign policy, economic influence, expansion, imperialism, etc. over the world, is attempting to convert the rest of the world to be like us (under the false guise of freddom and democracy). Our foreign policy makers and propagandists think that we are the role model for the rest of the world to copy and emulate.
Anelauskas, mentioned earlier, wrote a very vehement treatise against
Hence, the rest of the world is becoming consumption driven, materialistic minded, and capitalist in structure. Eventually, people in other countries will also be forced to center their existence around money and career too. They will have no choice. And it will be all in the name of "progress". It's a sad state of affairs. But that's what the mechanized impersonal capitalist systems that control the flow of all resources and capital is turning the world into. Just look at how things have developed in the world over the past century, and you will see how obvious this is.
It looks like Alex Jones and David Icke were right about the “New World Order” taking hold on the world through Western imperialism. What they and other leaders in the conspiracy movement have warned and predicted has come to pass.
Anyhow, these are among the valid reasons why US culture and influence is disliked and abhorred by many foreign intellectuals, especially European. They see its industrial culture and economic system as a mindless powerful machine that destroys the mind, soul, and environment. (See Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment by a researcher in India) And even worse, it poses a dangerous threat to the world by enforcing its influence to bring about the same to other nations, which many object to.
My Expat Advisor stated:
“While it may not be
sophisticated, American culture is not bankrupt in the financial sense.
very powerful. It is ousting all the other cultures from where they
Jeremy Rifkin, writes on our outmoded international appeal in The European Dream, page 16 - 17:
why it saddens me
to say that
Now, on a deeper note, I happen to believe in karma, and also in the Greek and Chinese saying that "everything should be in moderation". I surmise that extremities when prolonged, eventually collapse and result in a major toppling shift at some point. History has shown this, since in reality, nothing can have unlimited growth. Eventually, growth must collapse in order to make way for new growth cycles. Such is simply the law of the universe.
Hence, our extreme "life is all about money" principle is too unnatural to sustain forever, and that at some point eventually, there will be a radical reformation or revolution of the status quo of some sort, whether karmic or material in nature. In other words, the prolonged imbalance of all this must inevitably cause some sort of upsurge of the status quo, whether socially, spiritually, or economically. The system we have is just too unnatural and imbalanced to sustain forever in my view. I am not trying to make any specific prophecies here, just my general observation on the big picture of things.
change is never easy, and the
psychological/cultural obstacle that
The European Dream, page 23:
“It’s going to be very difficult for Americans to adjust to a borderless world of relationships and flows where everyone is increasingly connected in webs and networks, and dependent on one another for one’s individual and collective well-being. What happens to the American sense of being special, of being a chosen people, in a world where exclusivity is steadily giving way to inclusivity? Does God really care less about the whole of his earthly creation than he does about the North American part? Europeans might find such a conjecture funny, but, believe me, many Americans remain wedded to the notion of our special status as God’s chosen ones. If we were to give up that belief, or even entertain doubt about its veracity, our sense of confidence in ourselves and the American Dream might experience irreparable harm.”
Page 83 - 85:
"THE TUG BETWEEN EUROPE and
What we are going to find, by retracing European history, are the roots of the American Dream that we discussed in chapter 1. Although historians rarely allude to it, the reality is that the American Dream represents the thinking of a moment of time, frozen in European history and transported whole cloth to American shores in the eighteenth century, where it continued to animate the American experience right up to the present day.
We Americans like to think of ourselves as forward-thinking, with our attention focused on the distant horizon. However, our worldview, strangely enough, is locked into a specific period of time long since passé by in European history. In short, the American Dream is a very old dream and becoming increasingly irrelevant in the new era of globalization."
Mr. Rifkin though, offers hope in the new European Union:
The European Dream, page 13 – 14:
“The American Dream puts an emphasis on economic growth, personal wealth, and independence. The new European Dream focuses more on sustainable development, quality of life, and interdependence. The American Dream pays homage to the work ethic. The European Dream is more attuned to leisure and deep play. The American Dream is inseparable from the country's religious heritage and deep spiritual faith. The European Dream is secular to the core. The American Dream is assimilationist. We associate success with shedding our former cultural ties and becoming free agents in the great American melting pot. The European Dream, by contrast, is based on preserving one's cultural identity and living in a multicultural world. The American Dream is wedded to love of country and patriotism. The European Dream is more cosmopolitan and less territorial. Americans are more willing to employ military force in the world, if necessary, to protect what we perceive to be our vital self-interests. Europeans are more reluctant to use military force and, instead, favor diplomacy, economic assistance, and aid to avert conflict and prefer peacekeeping operations to maintain order. Americans tend to think locally while European's loyalties are more divided and stretch from the local to the global. The American Dream is deeply personal and little concerned with the rest of humanity. The European Dream is more expansive and systemic, and therefore more bound to the welfare of the planet.”
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