Happy Independence Day, USA!

America is not just independent. America is very independent.

Why?

Is it something to do with the personalities of its people and/or its leaders?

Honey and Mumford reckoned people have four different ways of learning (often called ‘learning styles’):
Activists just get on and ‘do it’ – acting first, considering consequences later;
Reflectors observe and analyse – slow to reach conclusions;
Theorists think logically – fitting things into a pattern; and
Pragmatists put ideas into practice – shunning endless discussion.

Is America very independent, because Americans have a preponderance of particular learning styles?

Were the people who left Europe and sailed the high seas, more likely to be Activists? (Who else would cross the Atlantic under sail with no guarantee of success, and no likelihood of ever returning?) If so, can this pass down the generations?

What learning style do you need to become President, given that you can only run for office if you have substantial personal wealth?

Does this have any relevance to the conduct of international relations, where different peoples learning styles can come into conflict?

Does it even have a bearing on America’s foreign policy?

What do you think?  Of course how you approach this question, may just be coloured by your own learning style . . . . .

Happy Independence Day, USA and The World!

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9 Responses to “Happy Independence Day, USA!”

  1. thedetroiter Says:

    I agree on the learning styles.
    But I think the motivation of the first settlers should be kept in mind – they weren’t by any measure adventurous, daring sailors who wanted to discover the world – they were people with very strong religious beliefs who ultimately had to travel to the other side of the world (well, almost) to flee prosecution under the English crown. This is also a reason why they became independent so “quickly”, at least in comparison to countries like Canada, who remain in the Commonwealth even today but cut their legislative ties to the UK in the 1980s.

    So how does this affect international relations?
    America is a country of extremes. There is little grey zone here, most things are black and white. Poverty and Wealth, Democratic and Republican, East or West, Young and Old.. whereas lots of other countries, for example European nations, live from their grey zone. Take my home country Germany. Although even in Germany, the gap between rich and poor is growing, there is lots of grey in political realms. All those political parties paint a picture of diversity, the actual possibility to believe in something that is not conform with what everybody thinks.
    Of course you can do this here in America, but you won’t be able to go all the way with that. You will have to fit in one of the groups.

    And that’s why I think that over the generations, the spirit of breaking free of restrictions has been lost. Once, a group of believers sailed over the ocean to live a life free of religious prosecution. Today, even if you won’t be prosecuted for being different, you sure as hell won’t be successful.

    Consecutively, I also think America is very independent in a bad way. It has cut most its ties of alliance but yet wants to keep watch on everybody.
    Wow, I could elaborate a lot more, but those are my two pence for today!

  2. Neil Schori Says:

    Graham,

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog. I would have to say that I think the USA is so independent for a multitude of reasons.

    The first is that internal drive and that “go west” mentality. We have that “rugged individualism” mentality.

    The second reason is that we are the sole remaining superpower in the world and I think that we wear that as a badge of honor.

    The final reason that I can think of is that we are no longer popular in the world and that makes us propagate the “go it alone” mentality that we are now known for…

    Ultimately, I believe that in many ways we’ve perverted a good thing. We’ve taken good work ethic and an adventuresome spirit and it has morphed into pride. I love the USA and I’m so blessed to live in one of the safest countries in the world. However, my allegiance to my country pales in comparison to my dependence on God. I never want to mix patriotism and my religious beliefs, as if they were at all tied together. I also never want to think that the USA is “God’s country.” Unfortunately, I think that many Americans do believe that to be fact.

    Graham, thanks for the reply. Stay in touch!

    Peace,

    Neil

  3. Cat's Pajamas Says:

    Graham,

    I’m not sure I can answer your questions as eloquently as others. I do know that in terms of our military and their families we take great pride in the freedom that we fight for. We are independent because we fight for what we believe in, what we stand for, our morals. This is the only nation that I know of that the people can speak their minds without fear of retribution. We are a “mut” of people if you will and we make it work because when push comes to shove, we love our country and what it stands for. Now, if the majority of Americans would actually speak up against the minority of people that want to take our God out of this country we’d be good. We’re fighting and praying, that’s all we can do.

  4. samdhill Says:

    Just as these responses have argued, I believe that one must look to our American roots to find the original source of “independence” that exists so prominently in the American culture. And, unfortunately, if we continue to examine our American history we will find that our independent attitude has certainly been taken to dangerous levels, which is reflected in the way we perceive and treat the world.

    I think of the writings of J.S. Mill, who laid out the basic framework for Western Individualism in his renowned work, On Liberty, which said that all people should have the right to be truly themselves, without worry of being persecuted, judged, rebuked, harmed, etc. as long as their actions are not causing harm to others (otherwise, the Harm Principle). This idea is deeply ingrained within the fabric of American thought and ideology, and I fear that the once-innocent liberty (or independence) that America once gratefully relished, has now been transformed by the trials and challenges of history into an international arrogance that is deeply judgmental and persecutory of other international sub-cultures, and (in my view) is very harmful to other nations.

    The irony exists in that the idea of American independence today is perhaps contradictory of the idea of American independence 200 years ago.

    All to say, that the American independence – or liberty, as described by Mill – of our forefathers was once genuine and true, but has since been corrupted by the challenges and successes of the past century, which as regrettably turned our noble independence into this contrary mindset of international close-mindedness and ignorance mixed dangerously with the desire for dominance and power.

    Great question, Graham, thanks for your thoughts!

    Sam

  5. Jenni Catron Says:

    Interesting thoughts. I was definitely raised in an environment where independence was highly valued and encouraged. I found myself developing an “I don’t need anyone else” kind of mentality that I’m learning is really harmful and lonely.

    I do think many of America’s leaders also come from this highly independent mentality.

  6. Mardé Says:

    Thanks for the question, Graham. What you’re basically asking is can we sort out elements, learning styles if you will, in America’s historical past which may explain, or shed light on, our perceived independent, go it alone, attitudes.

    Well, I’m certainly not an historian and there are countless books on this subject, most of which I haven’t read, but let me say right off the bat that I am one of those Americans who believes the Bush administration has polarized this country, if not the world, to dangerous extremes. I believe the extremists have taken over the Republican Party and that it all began with Reagan. He appointed Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court and Scalia is the one who led the court in making possible the election of Bush back in 2000.

    Not that the country was not already polarized but it certainly wasn’t polarized to the extent it is now. The two party system, as your first commenter has pointed out, was always a problem but with the Reagan/Bush revolution one party, the Republican, has been taken over by extremists, as I said above. The old time moderate Republicans have been pushed to the side. Many of our antiquated institutions, for example, the electoral college, cannot be changed because of this grip on power by the few. Rural states, like Wyoming, have as much influence in the Senate as populous ones like New York and California. Enormous amounts of money are needed to finance political campaigns; money talks and spreads its influence.

    Alright, I’ve said enough. But let me summarize by saying our problem is our outmoded institutions, our lack of historical exposure to other countries and cultures, our excessive concentration of wealth caused by a weak social conscience, and, finally, our tendency to equate God and country, which has gotten worse recently, but probably originally arose from our religious heritage. Incidentally, our founding fathers wanted to keep religion out of politics. They were wise men.

    We’re in a bad way, and if we continue further down this road it won’t be long before we become a second rate power.

    Well, that’s just my 2 cents. Of course I could be wrong. ;-)

  7. thedetroiter Says:

    It’s always amazing to see that most Americans actually have the “only superpower”, “god blessed country”, “greatest country in the world”, “one of the only safe countries”, etc beliefs… For me as a European it is ridiculous, because there is no such thing as a “greatest country in the world” – I live in a UNION of countries that work together, not against each other, forming an even bigger power that is also well liked in the world.
    Not that I don’t like the US: I just don’t like how the inhabitants think because they were born here, they have the right to “fight for freedom” in other countries (creating war and destruction) instead. Nobody in the US really had to fight for freedom anymore – you are all free! Take care of your own country, your health system, your homeless people, your religious extremism, your energy consumption, your economy…

    But it’s ultimately none of my business. I am not American, and I in turn take great pride in being a European. It is a liberal, free, unrestricted and prosperous place. Only one comment made me angry – the assumption of one commenter that the United States of America are the only country were you could freely express any opinion without fear of retribution. Really? The ONLY one? How about the whole European Union? Australia, New Zealand, Canada? I know many more. And in the times of the Patriot Act, phone screenings, email scannings and the like, I wouldn’t be so sure of it.
    So many Americans that I know can’t even place most countries right on the map. No wonder they believe there is only America.

    Sorry if this was kind of uncoherent and irritable – it’s just an irritated European’s view on things.

  8. Mardé Says:

    As an American, I agree with you 100%, thedetroiter. We should be taking care of our own country in all the ways you said. And I totally agree as well that people in those other places you mentioned are just as free as we are, if not even more free in some ways. Many Americans will say I hate America, but I don’t.

  9. Walt Says:

    Our ancestors escaped from a society where privilege was mostly stratified with a king at the top. Or if they didn’t escape, they got kicked out.

    But their problem was that privilege included no particular duties towards others, and so one could find oneself made or broken at the caprice of people of greater rank. So, the American revolution was a rejection of class, and an embrace of the idea that each person had a natural right to pursue their own objects, limited by their own capability and appetite, and not the whim of one whose only merit was in having chosen parents well.

    Independence, we were taught, was not just a character trait. It was a moral objective, and an organizing principle leading to a well-ordered society. We Americans wanted to substitute independence for class, in the social equation.

    So we developed a classless society, as nearly as we could, encouraging independence.

    Of course, should I observe that many of us Americans are classless, I mean something quite different.

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