May 8, 2021

Our Public Face

Shortly after 9/11 the question was question was asked “Why do they hate us?” It was a question few wanted to take the time to answer, and justifiably so: These people were out to kill us. However, looking into that question a few years later yields some interesting thoughts about the current state of America and where we are going.

The Bible has a great quote that I think applies to what is going on in the world today and with the world’s relationship with America. “Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but God looketh at the heart.” In terms of America and the rest of the world, think about what the rest of the world knows and sees of America and the value systems of these places.

Mortimer Zuckerman in an Editorial for U.S. News and World Report
gets it pretty much right. The world sees of America, more than anything else, our entertainment exported. It was shortly after we had libertated Afghanistan that reports came that the country didn’t like us showing Britney Spears and other pop tarts like them because of how much skin they exposed. The press in the U.S. poked fun at them when they wanted to dress Barbie in a burka.

One has to remember that, to some degree, religion is much more engrained in the daily life over there, and being a religious people what we have become tolerant over here, or what Hollywood believes needs to be done to make a buck over here, is really offensive over there. This entertainment, instead of centering around wholesome values, now centers around sex, violence, and the desire to be #1. And that’s what they interpret all Americans to be like because that’s what they see of us.

A.W. Tozer said that we can tell what kind of person we are by what we do when we’re not obligated to do anything else. Our entertainment– or what we choose to be entertained with– paints a more accurate picture of who we are than we want to admit. If it didn’t entertain us, Hollywood wouldn’t be making it (for the most part).

We could go a long way to inspiring the world if we would clean up our lives and our entertainment.

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3 thoughts on “Our Public Face

  1. It’s not just that some people hate us due to religious differences but they are also jealous of us: our freedoms of all kinds, our government, easy access to food and nice products of all types, etc. I grew up in Europe and know this first hand. Our nation is not perfect, that’s for sure, but overall, we are still the best, because here anyone has a real chance to become a different, better person. In some European countries (and on other continents as well) one does not even have a chance to move from one city to another because of housing shortages, so people are stuck in the same place for generations whether they like that or not. Education here is not that great, but it’s mostly free and very, very accessible to anyone under 18 yrs old. Here there is very little class difference among the population. A child born into slums can still become millionaire.
    The funny thing about the Muslims is that they may hate our culture on the outside, but inside their homes, they dress like us, they listen to same music and watch the same movies and want to eat our foods too. I am not sure that’s a good thing though. Many aspects of western culture are not good at all. At least I feel that our religion is a lot more tolerant than theirs. Having read the Koran, our Bible is very mild when it comes to dealing with non-believers. We are asked to stay away from them or to try to bring them to Jesus, while the Muslims are told to kill and destroy the non-Muslims. That’s pretty scary.

  2. You make some valid points. I lived in England for 6 months a while back and didn’t notice that much difference (of course that was many years ago!). I do think that the world perception has been altered though, and that the seedier sides of Western Civilization that you have mentioned are starting to have an impact on foreign countries, though.

    If not literally, it is a good excuse used by some to justify their actions!

  3. An interesting post (and as you quote Tozer, it must be right!) But I thought I would add my perspective (particularly as you were good enough to comment on one of my posts).

    I think you are right. One’s conceptions are formed by the images one sees. If I think about ancient Rome, I have in mind something like the world of Ben Hur, and the various other movie reconstructions I have seen.

    Likewise, on my first trip to the U.S., I was heavily influenced as to what I thought I would find by the movies I had seen. (Actually, I was not dissapointed in this. My first night was in a youth hostel in the centre of Washington DC and I heard gunshots nearby and police sirens in the early hours of the morning!)

    But in fact the reality is a long way from the movie images, and my first rather frightening night was probably as bad as things got – well, except for the driving in Boston!

    But even though I could have and should have known better, I fully expected America to be full of trigger happy villains, race wars, crooked police and superheroes with no dress sense (okay, maybe not the superheroes).

    Stereotypes can be dispelled by travel, communication and a desire to understand one another. But yes, the culture portrayed in the U.S. film industry does account for how much of the world sees America.

    I don’t think Gia is right that envy is the key issue. But maybe I am biased. If I had to live in the Western hemisphere, Canada would be my choice. I am not sure that I believe in the American dream. A child born in the slums can become a millionaire in many countries – but what is the likelihood? Wouldn’t it be better if we just could get rid of the slums?

    And anyway, wouldn’t it be better that the child be happy than be a millionaire?

    Sorry – too many musings. I’ll stop rambling.


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