James Fallows, writing in Atlantic Monthly: "Here is the sort of thing you notice anew (about America) after being in India or China, the two rising powers of the day."
Or in my case, in fast-growing and economically thriving Turkey after three and a half months.
"There is still so much nature, and so much space, available for each person on American soil. Room on the streets and sidewalks, big lawns around the houses, trees to walk under, wildflowers at the edge of town—yes, despite the sprawl and overbuilding....The typical American I see in an office building or shopping mall, stout or slim, gives off countless unconscious signs—hair, skin, teeth, height—of having grown up in a society of taken-for-granted sanitation, vaccination, ample protein, and overall public health. I have learned not to bore people with my expressions of amazement at the array of food in ordinary grocery stores, the size and newness of cars on the street, the splendor of the physical plant for universities, museums, sports stadiums."
In other words, be thankful for what you (we) have in America. At the same time, I don't want to encourage Americans' overweening pride, arrogance and pervasive ignorance of the world beyond our shores, or as Cullen Murphy characterized the U.S. in "Are We Rome?", like the ancient Romans we have "an exaggerated sense of self importance coupled with a myopic view of the world."
We should be open to the concept that other countries do some things better than we do in America. There are things I wish I could export or take home with me from Turkey.
Fallows' article is called "How America Can Rise Again," and is accompanied by a video interview in which Fallows notes "a uniquely American trait -- cycles of despair followed by triumphant rebirths."
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