Global High – and lows

By: epluribusgeenum

Oct 09 2008

Category: Uncategorized

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Remember that one guy in high school that was popular and you knew why?  Because he was good at football, he was student body president, he wooed all the loose ladies, and he held major clout in the cafeteria.  Yet you were still against him when it came to the very fabric of his character: he was pushy, always got his way, and all those redeemable qualities mentioned earlier?  Oh, he knows how good he is.  He happens to think he’s God’s Gift to Man. 

So if it ever came to a locker-room rumble, for the sake of whose ass would your towel swat be?  Would you be a part of his posse because he treated you relatively nicely, and let’s face it, he was powerful?  Would you dare to define yourself against him because you thought you were composed of stronger character?  Or would you simply be the bystander in full-clothes, watching the whole thing go down but leaving in time to get onto more important things like Pre-Cal class?

The latest Nobel lit prize was recently awarded to Jean-Marie Le Clezio, a French writer who isn’t actually… French.  According to a statement made by Nicolas Sarkozy, he is a Mauritian citizen by birth, spent his teenhood in Nice, and then got his nomad on shortly after, traveling the African and American deserts.  That’s all well and good, but the reason I know this is because I clicked on an AOL homepage headline link: French Writer Wins Nobel: Was Jury Anti-American?  Okay.  Dude isn’t exactly French, first of all.  But are Americans so self-centered that a failure in getting a prestigious prize means that, SURELY, oh!  the jury must be anti-American!  Even with such naive indignation, the suspicion of Anti-Americanism itself should point American thought into introspection.  It doesn’t.

I can’t help but see America as that dude from high school, the jock, the big-shot, the whoever that thinks his shit doesn’t smell (or thinks his shit doesn’t even exist).  It’s a generalization, but on the global stage, the little nuances, whether good or bad, of this country’s disposition will not save him.  If it were an 80’s movie, a soft, discerning girl with good fashion sense and a remarkable patience would see him for those nuances of character, that beyond the pompous facade he’s actually really… really… what?

In perhaps an unsolicited soundbite, Academy Permanent Secretary Horace Engdahl told The Associated Press that the United States is too insular and ignorant to challenge Europe as the center of the literary world.  In an I-DON’T-THINK-SO response, the head of the U.S. National Book Foundation offered to send Engdahl a reading list.  While his statement may be, as he admits later, perhaps a bit too generalizing, like I mentioned earlier it’s hard to break away from cliche and generalizations because… they’re true.  They may not be true for every American, but as long as there are people manifesting those tenets, they’re going to exist. 

Now, look.  I don’t consider myself overly patriotic.  I love this country, and as a citizen but also the daughter of two immigrants, it’s difficult to find my position when it comes to judging this country, but I will say that I love it and  want it to reflect the very values it tries to impose on others.  I mean, no one wants to put their pride stock into an less-than-honorable market.  Is it even a fair thing to do, to judge my country’s character, especially since the U.S. is founded upon the idea of individualism, is split up into so many ways of thinking, speaking, and living?  Yeah. It is, I say.  It’s many voices into one, and if our one voice has a stutter, has even an inkling of insincerity laced in its tambor, I notice, they notice, we all notice.  And as someone who’s lived here all her life, I think it’s a pretty valid opinion. 

To make myself clear, I’m not siding with anyone here.  I’m the full-clothed kid in the locker room.  Psh, I’m the full-clothed GIRL in the locker room.  Who even knows why I’m there, but I’m watching, and I can see everyone’s a little guilty of some breach of morals, some small crime.  But when you’re the big-shot and you know it, you better be good because someone is always watching, and if you aren’t going to base your character on the way you treat those watchers, just how can you do it?  It’s not unfair — you step on that soapbox, you better be prepared to take the megaphone.

I’m just disappointed that my native country expects so much respect but doesn’t always dish it out.  The Nobel lit prize is also a bit small on the grand scope of things, especially in lieu of the recent economic letdown and of course the upcoming election (oh man, oh man.  I won’t stop crossing my fingers until I turn in my ballot.  Which might make it a challenge to hold my voting baton.  Or to go to the bathroom). 

…so maybe I’m overreacting.  But reactions toward anti-American sentiment is not just that, a explosion of proportions.  It never is.  It’s a collection of all the eye-brow-raising bits.  And besides, we are on the cusp of a new surge of American greatness, one founded on humanistic values, but that same cusp has on its other side the very real potential for a big, ugly fall into our old ways: greedy capitalism (very often doesn’t work), overconsumption, a generally selfish attitude in our global outlook. 

Although I’ll admit, the Nobel lit prize is obviously a pretty miniscule event when you compare it to the importance of a Dancing with the Stars contestant’s injury.  Just how is she going to work through it?

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