Sunday, February 3, 2013

why change? aren't we the best?

Ethnocentrism is universal to all societies, but we Americans are particularly given to assuming that our nation and way of life are superior. However, as suggested in the above clip from a recent episode of HBO's The Newsroom, our nation fares rather poorly in comparison to many others on numerous indicators of life quality, and the reasons it does so largely seem to be linked to social and economic inequality. In related vein, this recent article by Mark Santow places the notion of American "exceptionalism" into perspective as he describes the various ways inequality exacerbates life for many of us.


  1. I love this video. It's honest and real- it confronts the viewer with facts that most people are not aware of... and probably don't even want to know.

    From a psychological perspective, most people will refrain from confronting, or even acknowledging, problems and negativities regarding their "in-group"- turning a blind eye protects the self-esteem that is derived from being in this group, and America is an excellent example of an in-group filled with excellent examples of people with unfounded senses of self-esteem.

    The country as a whole has an excellent and noble set of ideals- but not many people are willing to admit that we don't live up to them. In fact, I'd argue that, as a country as a whole, America is rather hypocritical- this hypocrisy is evident in many aspects of American society, including in our unjust amount of social stratification.

    I tend to think of most, if not all, social problems as having underlying psychological explanations. Racism has psychological explanations, exploitation has psychological explanations, class distinctions have psychological explanations, etc, etc. It's not enough to say what the problems are- we have to know what causes the problems.

    As I already mentioned, I think this video's aim is to "burst the bubble" of the unfoundedly patriotic. If we could, as a nation, see that we are not as great as what we think we are, then perhaps then we could start working on the problems that are keeping us from becoming as great as we can be. America has great potential, but we'll never reach it if we don't allow our self-esteems to take that first hit. If we were willing to take that first hit, perhaps we'd improve academically, morally, spiritually, etc.

    I think that the real question here is: how do we create awareness in the public and how can we overcome that initial resistance? How to we circumvent basic human psychology to create a better society?

    Did I mention that I LOVE this video?

    1. Here is a link to an article that explains in more detail the points I was trying to make in my previous comment.

      Nationalism, Patriotism, and Group
      Loyalty: A Social Psychological Perspective