A couple of months back; I was attending school in Europe and was snoozing in the class when my reverie was broken by the whole class breaking into laughter. I asked the girl sitting next to me and she said that someone made a joke about Americans and their obsession with fast food. I smiled and thought, there goes a couple of ‘super size me’ jokes. Please remember, it was back in September 2008, before Barrak Obama got elected and people were still ridiculing United States of America for all things ludicrous.
I wanted to go back to dozing off, but one of the American guys said something which woke me up, and a few others, fully. He said that Americans eat more fast food than the rest of the world because they work harder than everyone and don’t get time to make home cooked meals. He actually believed that eating fast food is an “American way of life” because they are so damn hard working.
I literally bristled and said that the rest of us work as hard as Americans, at times harder, but still cant make enough to get two square meals a day, so please don’t give the hard-working-Americans-eating-burgers-because-they-cant-make-salads argument because it is stupid. Again, back in September, it was almost politically correct to crack jokes about Americans being stupid (how the world changes and so fast). My friend Maja and I laughed at the ‘American way of life’ comment for the next three days.
A few years ago, I was out shopping with girl friends in Toronto when some American high schoolers (yes, I checked, they were Americans and on a school trip) broke into a food fight at the food court of that shopping mall. In a couple of minutes, everyone joined in. A doughnut flew dangerously close to my head but I decided not to take part in the food fight and ducked. When I lamented the fact that so much food was wasted in a few minutes, I was told that it was “the American way of life” (yes one of my friends there was from United States).
Last night, while browsing through ‘The Independent’, I saw Joan Smith’s comment where she said that Obama might be enlightened, but a liberal, he is not. She quoted Obama verbatim where he said, “We need Christians on Capitol Hill, Jews on Capitol Hill and Muslims on Capitol Hill” to oppose taxes which favour the rich. In her words, Obama was calling for ‘an injection of morality’ in the political debate as though believers have a monopoly on fairness and justice.
She further cited research conducted by University of Minnesota which claims that Atheists are the most despised people in the USA, way ahead of Muslims, homosexuals and Jews. They are regarded as “a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public” and almost half the country wouldn’t vote for an atheist as president.
I am sorta confused. What is truly the American way of life? Is it eating more fast food than the rest of the world, getting engaged in more fights (food fight as well as real fights that drains their economy and has a humongous collateral damage) than the rest or being more centre-right than the rest of the Western world?
Is “American way of life” that radically different from the rest of the planet that it needs to be emphasized time and again or the current economic melt down would force the Americans to live more frugally (responsibly)???