The United States: A Culture Of Alienation
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Politics and Activism

The United States: A Culture Of Alienation

American culture has lost sight of its founding principles and Americans don't support it anymore.

The United States: A Culture Of Alienation

I'm half Polish on my mother's side. Nearly sixty years ago now, my mother was born in a Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. in a time when church services, when they weren't in Latin, were in Polish and there were kielbasa and chrusciki shops on every corner. Here, she can't get chrusciki except in stale boxes at grocery stores, and my grandmother complains that nothing compares to the good New York kielbasa they left behind.

I do not. Nothing in my childhood reflects my cultural heritage; neither me nor my mother speak Polish (though my mother manages it better than me). The closest I've ever come to Polish cuisine at home is frozen pierogies out of the box. We're Catholic, but no one in the household is practicing. "Polish" is my blood, but it is not my culture. I am a part of an alienated generation, the first in the family, perhaps, not to think of herself as Polish at all. I'm American.

Poland has a long and fabulous history of kings and folklore, and an even longer history of ceasing to exist before rising up out of the ashes. Like any country, it has its flaws, but there is an amazing spirit to that place, a persistence and pride in their heritage that allows them to persevere through unimaginable hardships.

How do Americans feel about their culture?

In the 2016 Harris Poll, 82 percent of Americans feel that the people who are running this country don't really care about what happens to them. 70 percent believe that most people in power try to take advantage of people like them. And 68 percent believe that what they think doesn't count very much anymore. This malaise reflects in the polls: the U.S. is 31st out of 35 countries in voter turnout.

Why shouldn't they feel that way?

This is American culture to me, right now: bipartisan tensions so high that not even our President can keep from disparaging the entire opposing party. Divisions. Violence against the most vulnerable of us, and looming threats of an increasingly broken healthcare system and failing public school systems. Rising debts and college costs for the next generation. Wall Street corruption that has never, and likely will never, be taken seriously. America built itself up on a promise of freedom and equality, but with a bloating gap between the rich and the poor and promised tax cuts for those who need it the least, we are neither free nor equal.

And if this is what America is to me, and to those 82 percent of Americans who feel alienated from their government, I would rather not be American.

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