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How to be a BAD American (and a bad human being)


Last Edited: September 23, 2006, 4:57 pm

I started writing a comment on Jack's blog, but then had a few more ideas, so I thought it would be better to create a new Blog entry, looking at things from the opposite direction.

So first of all, thanks to Jack for the idea.

Being a good American can be definied in some many ways that it is very difficult to describe.  Being an American means that you are free to do almost anything you want, providing that it does not:

  • Impinge on anyone else's freedoms,
  • Harm other people, or,
  • Engage in an activity that, if lots and lots of people did the same thing, would be harmful to society.

(That last point is MY definition of why we have certain laws, such as "don't do drugs.")  (Yes, I know that's not the official name of the law!)

So, back to the "good American" thing, there are infinite things you CAN do that would fall outside the bounds of those 3 things.  Basically, live life the way you see fit, within some sort of boundries.  Anyone who does that is a "good American" in my book.

And that encompasses MOST People in America, so to me it is much more helpful to define what is a "bad American".  There is a very small percentage of the population who are "bad Americans", but unfortunately bad Americans are the most interesting, simply because they are bad.  As a result those people get the most attention from the news media, Hollywood, and others, so it SEEMS like there are a lot of them out there.  But there isn't.

So what does it take to be a bad American?  Here's my list.

  1. You discriminate against someone for something that they ARE, rather than something they DO.  Among other things, that includes race, religion, age, gender, appearance, and abilities.
  2. You generally take more than you give.  This is not just about money, although it would certainly include that.  It's about giving to your family, giving to friends, and giving to your community.  It's about giving time, ideas, prayers, and effort.  It's about showing you care by making sacrifices.  People by their nature do need to get from others also, but on the balance a good American will end up being a very giving person, because there are infinite ways to give, and only one way to get.
  3. You generally spend more time spreading the negative than the positive.  This is completely different than "being a negative person".  People can go around being as negative as they wish.  That comes under "live life the way you wish."  This point is the active spreading of negativity, in any form.  That can include crime, ridicule, criticism, mockery, and more.  One can commit crime, ridicule others, criticize, mock, and do a thousand other negative things without being a "bad American".  But when their life, on balance, does those things primarily, and they do those things to others or to society, they are "bad Americans".

I think that about sums it up.

So how does this apply to current events?

There are people out there protesting the war, protesting Bush, protesting Republicans, etc.  Lots of time I hear the phrase, "Just because I hate Bush and hate the war, I am NOT a bad American!!"

Every time I hear that it sounds very defensive, as if they feel they need to justify themselves, but that's really beside the point.

The point is that they are essentially correct, with a caveat.

There are people who honestly feel a great disdain for warfare in any form, and would prefer any route over violence.  I may disagree with such people, but as "good Americans" they have every right to feel the way they do, and they have the right to express themselves in whatever way they wish.  (With the exception of doing so in a way that hurts or takes away the freedoms of others.)

However, there are other people for whom the war is a good excuse to continue spreading hatred of our form of government, or hatred of our laws, or hatred of the people who live here.  Such people are most certainly "bad Americans."

As I mentioned above, the vast majority of people are "good Americans", but unfortunately the "bad" ones get the most attention.

Entry #286


Rick GComment by Rick G - September 23, 2006, 6:14 pm
"However, there are other people for whom the war is a good excuse to continue spreading hatred of our form of government, or hatred of our laws, or hatred of the people who live here. Such people are most certainly "bad Americans.""

If you are an American you cannot be a 'bad American' for expressing your views and exercising your freedom of speech. You can be a bad foreigner, but you can't be a bad American. "Bad foreigners" might be a better expression.

justxploringComment by justxploring - September 23, 2006, 7:58 pm
How about going one step further? Calling someone else a "bad American" is the first step in being one yourself. That's like calling someone else a bad Christian or a bad Jew since the Bible tells us not to judge our neighbor.

I'm very surprised by this post, Todd. You and an LP member literally bash people who have different viewpoints, calling them Liberals on many posts and stating that, by disagreeing with the war in Iraq, don't share the same Patriotic/Christian values. People are not spreading "hatred" at all when they protest against the government. They are, if I know my history, being really great Americans and following the Declaration of Independence, unless you don't believe in what it teaches. Thomas Jefferson believed in the power of the people to self-govern. He promoted religious freedom for all and the separation of Church & State. He even talked about the right of the people to abolish a government which becomes destructive.

For over 200 years, protest has been a part of living on this great continent. Now it is being called un-American to question a government's policies or a president's leadership. If an American citizen feels in his heart that, by invading a country or countries, this administration has been or is being destructive it is his duty to vehemently oppose it. The death of thousands of people is very destructive. You use the word "hatred." If this person is an American then how can any American who questions his very own government be spreading hatred? There is a big difference between hating a government and questioning its principles and actions. In fact, if you love a child, you'd be a bad parent NOT to try to lead him to do the right thing and establish rules that will promote safety and happiness for the whole family.

Since I am on the subject, Jefferson also wrote over 200 years ago that Democracy cannot be forced upon people. He said "Instead of that liberty which takes root and growth in the progress of reason, if recovered by mere force or accident, it becomes with an unprepared people a tyranny still of the many, the few, or the one." So I don't think Thomas Jefferson would approve of the war in Iraq either. He also wrote "The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims." (Bush perhaps?) I think I'll join the group of bad Americans like our Founders and side with the belief that â_oTo sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.â__ Oh, that was said by another bad American, Abraham Lincoln.
ToddComment by Todd - September 24, 2006, 12:02 am
You both don't appear to have read what I wrote, which is unfortunately very common. If you're reading something I write like this that is pretty long and requires a good deal of thought, you can skip around and expect to understand it. Your loss.
TheTruthComment by TheTruth - September 24, 2006, 2:27 am
"However, there are other people for whom the war is a good excuse to continue spreading hatred of our form of government, or hatred of our laws, or hatred of the people who live here. Such people are most certainly "bad Americans."

I read all of it Todd. It was like "ok, ok, he's on the right positive track and then bam...you tacked on this statement at the end...Whom do you know feels the war is justifiable but yet turns on the war itself? I almost get the impression that you think that the people who don't support the war, really do support it, but chose not to support it disowning our own thoughts and feelings on the subject at hand.

But in a previous statement before that you talk about how it is our right to disown this war...so which one is it going to be lol? Most people who do or do not support the war made up their minds...maybe you should make up yours
ToddComment by Todd - September 24, 2006, 8:56 am
I like to write in a way that allows people to draw conclusions rather than being bonked over the head with declarative statements, but it seems that some people are jumping to the wrong conclusion, so I will clarify.

War protesters are not "bad Americans". People who hate the war are not bad Americans. I think I wrote that, but people see what they want to see, not what I wrote.

People for whom their entire life consists mainly of trying to tear down the work of others, rather than trying to construct something new are bad Americans. These are people who will never help institute change for the better, they are merely hateful people whose life goal is to spread their hate. There are some of these people who are using the war as just another tool to spread their hate. Get it?

No I'm not talking about any of YOU. People like to read into something things that aren't there. People always look to read something and measure THEMSELVES by it. If that's what you do, then you won't enjoy much of my blog, because I make the assumption that the reader is engaging in a philosophical discussion, not looking to see if I am writing about them.

I also mention that I am writing about a very small fraction of people in this country. Again, people see what they want to, not what I write.

TheTruth, yes, I did shift gears, but I don't have the time to write a huge blog entry, so I'm sorry that I could not more elegantly switch from the setup to the point. When I read it I "get it", but I also understand that many may not.

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