Americans should be more knowledgeable on world affairs
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 15:07
We live in a land of many luxuries. And although we are consistently warned and informed of the extreme debt crisis demolishing our economy, we are blessed with gems such as vast personal space and opportunities for our future. I did not realize how truly magnificent this country was until I was absent from it for three months while I explored Southeast Asia.
While spending the few months abroad, I really missed the United States. I missed the freedoms that include expressing yourself freely, widely, and loudly. In China I wore a suggestive shirt promoting breast cancer awareness and was just short of shunned by every onlooker I walked past. Needless to say, I didn't wear that shirt again.
And although my love for my country grew even more profound, at the same time, I started to learn the stereotypes of an American person. I learned that foreigners thought of us as mainly arrogant, ignorant, and stupid. It was not in my best interests when I admitted I was unaware that they spoke Cantonese in Hong Kong, not Mandarin. So, here I am to share a blip of information to hopefully broaden your worldview a bit more, specifically of Greece.
Our economy is certainly not the only one in trouble. In Athens recently, Aris Hadjigeorgiou explained to a New York Times journalist that he and his colleagues have not received payment in four months, while the newspaper files for bankruptcy.
"A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll," explains Russell Shorto of the New York Times. Many Greek families are living with literally nothing, no savings whatsoever.
Shorto comments that it is not rare to see individuals looking through the garbage for food. A book entitled "Starvation Recipes" has become very popular.
On Shorto's adventure to Greece, he also spent time with Paul Evmorfidis, who explained, "As the Greek government adds new taxes and surcharges onto its citizens, they respond with protest."
"The standard short answer to how Greece got into its financial mess is that it borrowed too much and spent unwisely," Shorto explicates.
Although, this is a tad short of what actually happened, it is assumed that location, along with Greek bureaucracy, combine to form an economic bomb leading to extreme poverty.
Speaking with my American friends in Asia, one jokingly interjected that we didn't need to know anything about other cultures because "we have everything back home."
And we do. Our country is full of comforts and lavishness that unfortunately, the rest of the world does not share. It is difficult to focus our attention elsewhere when we are a dominant society, which plays into continually practicing ethnocentrism. That is bad. In order to live up to our expectations of becoming well-rounded, educated, intelligent, and fair individuals, we must be knowledgeable about the entire world, not just our own.
Rebecca Eisenberg is a senior philosophy major and a contributing writer for the Daily 49er.