American Culture

    This unit we learned about American culture and the values that surround us. In Kohl's "Values Americans Live By" we saw that Americans value Time, Work, Privacy, Individualism and more. In my opinion, I believe that Americans value time more than anything else. Everything revolves around time. In Kohl's article, he brings up common phrases such as, "killing time", "wasting time", "on time". Of course these are American phrases because we value time. We have always been taught to be time efficient. In school, work and at home. When we are in school we always have to do things in timings. For example:  the ACT. The only people who have an advantage while taking standardized tests are those who can answer questions within a couple seconds. It is good that our culture values time. More work is accomplished and our country and lives are moving faster and becoming more successful. But, time is also problem. For example: maternity leave.  The maternity leave in America looks like nothing compared that in Switzerland. In America, it is a certain amount of months but in Europe it is a year or two. Time is an American value and so is privacy. In America, every person needs time alone. In countries like India or Pakistani, it is normal to see extended family housing. My mother always tells me about how she was younger and she used to live with her cousins, grandparents, uncles and aunts. The houses were even built so that more than 30 people could live together. In America homes are made for about 4-5 family members. Each room separate so that each member has privacy. We value individualism more than cooperation. In "Bemused in America", the man see's individualism by seeing the more than 50 brands of cereal. We value choice while other countries would have maybe two or three different brands of food and less materialism. America is all about materialism. We have so many options for everything. It is overwhelming but it keeps our lives and the economy and businesses going. Talking about privacy, in "God Grew Tired of Us" one of the lost boys see's a woman crying in the supermarket and everyone walks right past her and he goes to help. I understand why no one helped. Its part of American culture to see the issue that, if it is not your problem then mind your own business. Our life is too fast paced and individualized too care about others issues. I see this as a potential problem in families where the parents are immigrants and children are born here. The immigrant parents may expect more contact in their old age while the child may not actually have time to give that much care only because there literally are not enough hours in the day to do all you want. Our daily schedules are so strict that it is too hard to do anything different. We usually wake up the same time, leave for work or school same time, then come home same time and maybe to spice up our schedules we go out for dinner or go grocery shopping. Time constricts our lives but also shapes it by giving our day structure. When I was in Saudi Arabia I noticed people doing leisure activities and literally chilling and strolling and eating out all the time. This is because they HAVE THE TIME TO. They have time to spend time with their families and friends and engage in community activities without having to stress about running out of time. But over there their timings are actually based more upon whether it is Ramadan or not, and what time prayers are. There are five prayers daily so they work around that time and devote that time to prayer. When I came back home and was talking to Sal, we had a conversation and I mentioned that people in Saudi have too much time and waste their time a lot. Mr. Sal responded saying "are you sure we just don't have enough time and we are workaholics." Then I realized that wow my comment was very ethnocentric. I didn't give much thought to the lifestyle and different culture of Saudi and judged it based on American values. Now if I think about it being a little less bias, I see that yes America mass produces workaholics.


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