These past some odd days I have seen more examples of the cold war mentality. These were all displayed by people who were adults during the cold war (that is, over 40). Hearing them speak I can see how “old” their point of view is but, more than that, how poor a view it is, not only in how one looks at ones own country but the whole world as a whole. As I reflected on this I mentioned three qualities that was displayed by these people in this mentality:
- The world is a miserable place. Any non-American place is horrible. Everyone is poor, under oppressive governments, and hates their government. There is a tendency to take other countries problems and blow them out of proportion. Often, great discourses will take place, in this mentality, about other countries problems. Naturally, the only solution is to ‘Americanize’ (isn’t that a coincidence?).
- Everyone wants to be American. This country is the place everyone yearns for and wants. We are the only country that knows how to live, be happy, and the only government that works. The U.S. is the pinnacle and height of humanity. We are “it”.
- The rest of the world is run by incompetent people. They often talk as if no one else in the world is competent to run their country, as if the world is made up of a bunch of dumb and stupid people. I was often stunned, and insulted, how cold war Americans would sit and belittle the people who run a some odd thousand-year culture and society, as if they were a bunch of stupid people.
Looking at these qualities you can see a definite ‘favouritism’ toward the U.S. In fact, everything is geared to do nothing but glorify the U.S. . . . at the expense of the rest of the world. This is a distorted and biased viewpoint. Not only that, it only leads to a poor viewpoint about the world. Taking these viewpoints how can a person possibly have a good point of view of the world?
This is why I have never seen a cold war American, who takes these viewpoints, have a good and healthy view of the world. This viewpoint leads to a number of ‘conclusions’:
- It paints the world as something it’s not. That is to say, a horrible place.
- It paints the U.S. as the “only” country in the world that knows anything.
- It paints the world, and its people, as stupid and incompetent.
All these are poor, unrealistic, mistaken, wrong, and ridiculous points of view. Sadly, these ‘conclusions’ are very influential in the policies and behaviour the U.S. has displayed toward the rest of the world. In many cases, they were determined by these ‘conclusions’. I tend to believe that these ‘conclusions’ are part of why the U.S. have had such a bad and horrible experience in its foreign relations. In effect, they were based on these false and mistaken premises.
But, for many Americans, these ‘conclusions’ have become part of the National Identity and the National Pride. Sadly, these ‘conclusions’ have become “America” for many many people . . . and they will stick to it even to today. In fact, its often so strong that, I have found from experience, that its not wise to refute ‘Mr. American Pride’ as he gives a discourse on these ‘conclusions’.
But, regardless of the false National Pride, these are still poor viewpoints based on poor premises. I will say this:
- The world is not a miserable place. There are many good and happy people in the world, living healthy content lives.
- The U.S. is not the great country it pretends to be. There are as many problems here, if not more, than in a lot of other countries.
- People are not stupid in the world. All over the world there is great ingenuity and ability.
These are all based, not on National Pride, but on my observations over the years.
I have learned to respect the world and its peoples, as well as their governments, customs, and so on. It is not my place (or America’s) to criticize any other people and culture, nor use its problems to ‘villanize’ and belittle it (if Mr. America wants to look at a countries problems he should look at his own countries problems). Overall, the world is not something to look at lightly or trivially. There is greatness and ability the world over. By appreciating the world, and its people, one can see the greatness in humanity. One can see that the world, in actuality, is not a ‘threatening’ place as the U.S. thinks. People are not plotting against us, or intending to do bad things to us. The world, also, does not seek to be ‘saved’, by the U.S. or any other country. It generally does not want any foreign intervention. In actuality, most of the world just wants to live their day to day lives. This, sadly, is a viewpoint not found in the cold war mentality.