Stop being influenced by America?


World-Map-1Like you all know and can see, I blog in English here, for different reasons. My mother tongue (Dutch) is only spoken in a small part of the Terran planet, and I do like to read a lot of things about the rest of the world too -which is miraculously technically possible now in this weird new era thanks to the internet-, so an international ‘lingua franca’ is very handy for both reading and writing when it comes about broadening the world. So that’s why I employ English here. (Because I don’t read nor write Russian, Japanese, Cantonese, or Arabic. Being able to do that would enable me to find even more viewpoints , but alas…)

Belgians can like all people (from tribal people to modern Westerners) be quite myopic sometimes, as any population, so I like to have a lot of perspectives from different places and different ages, which is the best way to be aware of the blind spots of my own individual and cultural perspective. Being able to read what happens not only here in Belgium but in exotic places as Asia or America can sometimes challenge a lot of ‘self-evident’ assumptions that I might have accumulated by participating in my culture.

But I should watch out with the internet if that is my goal. Sometimes it’s not true that I have many perspectives. There still is a danger though that I fall

into the trap of taking in too much of the presupposition of the most dominant empire within the English-speaking world. I don’t know why, but I keep on stumbling onto a majority of US content on the internet. Maybe I have too much US contacts and interests, or maybe they are omnipresent, I don’t know… And the problem here is that the US is not my country, and has a lot of things that are alien to me, that don’t even make sense to me (or sometimes even for any other outsider) but for Americans due to historical reasons they are completely normal and logical. This is true in politics and religion for example.

The 2-part-system makes no sense at all, for a non A-merican Obama is not ‘left’, let alone ‘socialist’ and actually not that different from GWB after all…

Same with religion, as an Evangelical Christian I am amazed at how strange the American version of my faith (which appears to be influencing a lot of evangelicalism around the world btw.,which might actually not be that healthy at all, since the US is in a process of dechristianisation) can be, and about some things they take fro granted as self-evident. Especially when those things make no sense and hurt people as some beliefs and practices in the -anthropologically very interesting- fundamentalist corner of American Christianity. Same for the liberal side, which is as weird as our ‘humanist’ anti-religious liberals here in Europe sometimes, and sometimes just built on a frustrated reaction of the other side without having much to say about things that are not covered by the other side.

So I think I need to actively search more perspectives of Christians (and other interesting thinking people) from all around the world of all colors cultures and sexes or whatever. I don’t see why American perspectives should dominate what I take in, I just began writing and reading in English to get away from my own myopic perspective and now another one wants to hypnotise me.. I need to see a kaleidoscope of perspectives where certain problems and polarising questions are not dominating and tainting everything. Like reading old church fathers from before Augustine and Eastern Orthodox writers can be very refreshing after countless unnecessary calvinism-‘arminianism’ debates I need to get away from the idiocy of both fundamentalism and the more extreme opposite on the liberal side… Both are distracting, adventures in missing the point, and if I take these kind of polarisations as normative it’s constantly taking too much energy to battle both sides.

The weird polarisations taken for granted in my own country (which are sometimes completely different from those in the US) are enough to lose a lot of energy which I could use to get to the point instead of having to defend myself. In the end there is no reason why the dominatnt culture US should influence me more than the fascinating culture of Tuva, or the old Sumerians or the Piraha… It’s good to know the thought of a dominant empire for a lot of reasons, but still I should not be brainwashed by the complications of another culture with as much problems as my own, and fight a lot of weird ideas that are not part of my story. I need to focus on my own battles. There are a lot of things in American fundamentalism (and liberalism), but they are not closer to my bed than the problems of the copts in Egypt or the Tibethan buddists…

So I need to refocus my scope and get more globally again, recognise what’s my area and what not and what is helpful to me and what not, and let others battle their own problems, for one man can not supervise the whole planet. And this means filtering and being conscious about what news is priority.

God is everywhere doing different things with different people and I’m not God, I’m not called to be omnipresent nor am I to be a part of the empire of the US…

May God bless and keep the US as much as the rest of Terra, but sometimes save the rest of the world from their influence… (and from ours, and other aggressive worldviews…)

peace

Bram

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12 responses to “Stop being influenced by America?

  1. I’m on the same page, but you put it a lot better.

  2. Wow great post and perspective. Sometimes I think the greatest “virtue” is humility and not love as love can’t get off the ground without humility. Love your posts – keeps this American thinking through his stuff.

  3. and you just outlined why I read your blog! =P Hopefully you will share some of the English speaking non-USA based blogs you find as part of this new refocusing. =D

  4. The problem with Americans is that we are separate from Europe, and also we are mostly monolinguals (my sister is unusual; she can read French and Spanish). that means that movements in European countries don’t reach us until the books are translated into English. Obviously, the world is global enough that we all influence one another, but anyways.

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  7. I heard someone say that arrogance is not a matter of thinking too highly of one’s self, but rather, not thinking highly enough of others. Canadians are quick to point out we are not American, but we are inundated with American culture, and except for a few remaining cultural and philosophical differences (bearing a slightly stronger sense of responsibility for community and being slightly less prone to solve problems with violence, for example) we are increasingly sucked into the vortex of American arrogance that does not think highly enough of other cultures. Living in Europe for a short time made me sort through the confusing mix of American/Evangelical/Christian culture I had grown up with. Some ideas definitely needed to be tossed. I will miss you. We need another perspective.

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