There’s a meme in Europe that Americans are by definition scared, which greatly offends Americans I assume cause they connote “scared” to “cowardly”.
I think it’s just a translation error. The word shouldn’t be “scared” but “anxious”. The state of Americans is the state of never ending anxiety.
One half of it is America champions self-reliance as the ultimate virtue, but we know instinctively that self-reliance only works as long as you are awake, ready, and able to handle the thing that’s about to happen.
The other is the flip-side of the notion that “anyone can pull themselves up in society”: that anyone can be pulled back down just as easily.
Hence the anxiety.
From the first half: the suggestion that the only way, as a society, to deal with gun death is to arm every person is absurdist in Europe and ‘common-sense’ to a lot of America. The anxiety involved isn’t broached, and the fact that “every person should approach every moment as if they’re in a war zone” is an impossible condition over the long term is usually also left unsaid.
This is spread throughout the culture: health insurance should be revokable, employment should be at-will and we should be fired for any reason, and if our employer wants to sell the company and fire everyone, that should be their right too.
From the second half we get the hostility. The belief that social movement is easy, no matter how incredibly wrong, runs deep through Americans. That means that to many Americans one’s place in society has to be defended, strongly and decisively, or else one will end up losing it.
If you’re not treated correctly, in your opinion, you need to do something about it. If you think someone is rude to you, you have to be ruder back or else this will be your new position to others.
That’s what’s happening with the current trend of what twitter dubbed “white caller crime”, where (anxious, goes without saying) white people call the cops on minorities who happen to occupy space near them. The white person in question believes themselves better than the minority, and as such sees their social status dropping simply being around someone they see as lower class.
There is no solution to this I think. It’s more wealth efficient to live under this governance, wealth leads to military power, and military power decides under what governance your neighbors have to live. This is who we are until climate change gets us.
As a parting tangent, it’s fascinating to me to see Instagram “trendsetter” posts that are nothing but pristine spaces devoid of people other than the one in the shot. We have turned calm into a pornography, something one only experiences in aspirational fantasy.
And frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if we start treating calm with the same disdain we treat porn. One always leans into one’s abuse eventually.