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Culture

What Makes Us American?

By Julia Song·· 3 min read
What makes us american

There’s no common ethnicity or religion binding us together, but America’s melting pot gathers to celebrate the spirit of freedom that unifies us every July 4.

Recently, however, due to growing concerns over class and race tensions, we’re left to wonder: Can America’s unity survive?

You could say that, if we’re not part of the native tribes who originally inhabited America, we’re all, in one way or another, immigrants to this land. This is a concept that’s important to take into account because cultures vary from region to region and place to place. And when all these cultures band together to form a nation, what’s the one thing that binds them and stands the test against their cultural differences?

What Makes America America?

As a first-generation immigrant, this is something I couldn’t immediately name, so I called it the American Effect. It’s that feeling that people all over the world have that America symbolizes freedom, diversity, and strength; the American dream became about searching for the prosperity that stems from this powerful combination.

America symbolizes freedom, diversity, and strength.

Broadly, this is due to the way our system of power was set up, public policy that allowed individuals to thrive, the fact that we’re politically stable, and have only had one constitution so far, which attracts foreign investment and economic growth.

America’s Hard Times

Suddenly, however, it wasn’t all roses. We’ve recently seen an uptick in protests and movements all over the country, by those in society who claim that the American dream is not the same for everyone and that they haven’t had the chance to experience it fully due to being largely forgotten by the system and society.

It is, in fact, a time to ask questions. As we remain at home due to lockdowns, and gatherings are largely not allowed, we’re unable to go out and celebrate the most American holiday of all — our Independence Day. As a capitalist country, we’re also faced with the difficult sight of private businesses being burned down by rioters or being bankrupted due to the shutdown, or both.

This isn’t the America any of us can confidently say that we recognize.

Kids are at home as schools have yet to open. The yellow buses are no more. No more theaters and popcorn, no more concerts, no more beaches. No more being able to look at people’s faces due to mask mandates. Social distancing. Staying at home. Plummeting economy. Job loss. This isn’t the America any of us can confidently say that we recognize.

Americans Are Resilient

What is it then that we can hold on to, in order to prevent our nation from crumbling? To avoid our differences floating to the surface and speaking louder than our pride as one united nation? I believe that answer is the most important aspect of the American Effect, which often goes unrecognized — our resilience.

Our ability to look past the pain and attempt to heal the community is a force to be reckoned with. 

America has seen tough times over the years, yet our ability to look past the pain and attempt to heal the community is a force to be reckoned with. After 9/11, after the Great Depression, after Pearl Harbor, after Hurricane Katrina, America has proved to the world time and time again that it will always stand up, together as one country, regardless of the adversities it may face.

Closing Thoughts

This pandemic, the riots, and any other damaging event that may come our way are a test of our ability to remember the foundational principles that bind us all together, and luckily, this too shall pass. When it does, we will emerge on the other side as the resilient, strong giants we are.

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