Traditional American Values…

Why does it seem that every time I hear someone talking about “Traditional American Values” what they are really doing is selling spin?

The phrase “Traditional American Values” is a leading statement designed to entice you into accepting something as truth.  The speaker is more interested in selling you on how they want you to behave than they are in discussing history.  You see, the truth of matters is that there is no such thing as Traditional American ValuesThis is not an opinion, it is a fact which I will illustrate in this post.  Yesterday I tweeted

There is no such thing as “traditional American values”, the USA is a cultural melting pot, not a one pot kitchen that only cooks cabbage.

One of the essential truths I believe about the USA is that it is a social melting pot.  I believe that the premise on which the USA grew to be a superpower is this: The USA cares naught about your origins, your culture, your religion, your gender, your race or any of the historical things that strive to mold you.  What the USA cares about is who you have the potential to become.  The USA cares about the real you, not about the you others would have you be.

In my opinion, that is how the USA should remain – more concerned with who individuals might grow to be than how their history has tried to shape them.

Must each of us abandon our heritage and the things we hold so dear?  Absolutely not.  I treasure my troubled past, and I hold my heritage in high esteem.  My culture and family did shape me, however I now have a family of my own, and it is much more important than me.

The moral values I’ve developed had their origins in my past, and all of them are important to me.  Yet I hold one of my values higher than any other, and that is this: Provided they do no harm, everyone is entitled to their own values.

And thus my taking exception to meaningless leading phrases like “Traditional American Values.”  Precisely whose traditional values is the speaker attempting to impose on me?  The Native Americans?  The Eskimos?  Perhaps the Apache, or maybe the Cheyenne, or any other unique tribe… for surely if anyone can be termed a Traditional American it is each and every one of these?  They all are the true traditionals, and much more so than any immigrant which the majority of us are.

But no, that is not whose traditional values they are attempting to impose on us.  The values they are attempting to impose on us, are theirs.  Sorry, I am not buying since not only do I already have my own values but I think my values are of equal worth to yours, and yours, and yours as well.

So, the next time you hear someone say “Traditional American Values” you would be well advised to turn on your brain, pay close attention, and listen with a skeptical ear.  The chance is good that what they’re about to tell you isn’t about values at all, but about them leading you by the nose onto their train of thought.

Personally, I don’t like people telling me how to think, I particularly don’t like being led by my nose, and I really don’t want to get onto anyone else’s train.  For some reason the metaphor of trains just doesn’t sit well with me – it conjures visions of unwitting, innocent animals being shipped to the slaughter, and of tight-packed emaciated bodies en route to Auschwitz or Siberian Gulags.

Traditional Values?” – you can keep yours, and I’ll keep mine.  Or even better, let us start a dialog about our differences.  Who knows, I might find some of your values to be better than the ones I already have and mix them in with mine.

Sounds a little like a melting pot, doesn’t it?

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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One Response to Traditional American Values…

  1. Thanks for a twitter response. Came, saw and liked everything about this site, and its thoughts, indeed its sentiments(in the classical sense). We share much in common, and the legacy in using a name is one impulse I also shared…except that mine might have been misunderstood. I like your scan-able poetic lines so hope that Involution-An Odyssey might equally appeal more perhaps for its philosophy. Will call again

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