Tuesday, February 15, 2011

America's Most Damaging Export

Daniel and I used to speak together about many things. It has always been a tradition in our family to include all of our children in conversation. Their opinions have always been valued, and evolved very quickly as they spent time in the world, even if their thoughts on things did not always match our own.
One of the things which bothered Daniel and myself is what we both referred to as "The most damaging US exports". We are referring to American television. By watching exported American television such as "Dallas", "Dynasty", "Santa Barbara" and many such programs, one would get many mistaken impressions. The first mistaken impression is that "All Americans are obscenely wealthy." Although it is true that there are some wealthy Americans, they are increasingly rare. Many Americans now make a fraction of what they once made, have lost homes they once owned and many now seek the services of a food bank in order to eat. A food bank is a charitable organization in which those who have lost jobs or been unable to make sufficient money can come to get some pre-packaged or canned food in order to make it to the next payday. Churches, grocery stores, farmers, canning companies, and individuals donate the food, when they are able, sometimes just before expiration of these foods. Many foodbanks are quite stretched in order to provide to the number of people in need today. Traditionally, it may have been easier for the lucky to amass wealth here, but it has always been easy to starve here as well. The second misapprehension is that "All Americans live like kings". Although there are those who have their own swimming pools and palatial homes, this is unusual and this is why it figures so prominently in some of our entertainment. Many Americans do not live well. Many live with relatives, unable to find jobs which would allow them apartments or rental homes of their own. This is in part a consequence of high business tax in our nation which forced many jobs in manufacturing or factory work overseas. The third bothersome false impression is that Americans are self serving and mercenary. Although our television might give that impression, this is not true. Americans are as diverse as Russians, as the British, or Australians, as Egyptians, or as Canadians. I am sure there are some rude and arrogant Americans, but there are far more Americans who quietly do good works all over the world, and who seek to work with other groups, rather than impose their will or even their own ideas. Many of us are Godly people who see themselves not only as children of God, but as citizens of the world.
It is true that in some ways, until recently, that many Americans have been your more fortunate cousins, but it is also true that many Americans are generous caring people who will not rest until they have made their own existence count in terms of bringing food, health care, clean water, or infrastructure to different parts of the world which are as yet, undeveloped.
I am not suggesting that we censor television or legally restrict exports of such, but somehow, US television producers allowed the export of what amounts to misleading propaganda. More thought needed to go into balancing rational American television as an export, in addition to the release of the far fetched series which demonstrate the worst of humanity. The export of American caricatures as characters, with situations which are unlikely in much of our country, are in part responsible for the undesirable anti-American backlash of the last few years. Many Americans are simply families working hard to feed families, keep their jobs, find and keep decent healthcare, and educate their children. The next time in a foreign land you see a preposterous premise for an American television series, know that it is, in fact, preposterous. There are inspiring and interesting REAL stories which do not revolve around gun toting amoral individuals. Television producers should work harder to tell about those. Daniel would want you to know.

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