Some Collected Thoughts on America, 1

Seeing as before I had lived here I already had some preconceptions as to what the country would be like, one of the most interesting things about living in the US has been not only the shattering and replacement of these ill-conceived ideas, but also the reinforcement of the few that I wouldn't have expected to have had confirmed. The strangest thing about living in the country that is not my own is the feeling of being an outsider, but also more than that - someone who is being let into a secret, a special club, someone that they are entrusting their most intricate secrets within which I can see, for my self, the countries problems and flaws as well as its strengths and advantages.

The biggest one I can see, so far, is that this country is so divided. It's divided on everything from Cars, religion, sexuality and government right down to race and class. This is obviously part of the great American Experiment and, in a sense, not only the countries greatest weakness but also it's greatest strength. However, it is only a strength when handled with care and intelligence - but I rarely see that whilst living here.

Take religion for example. Religion here, especially in Texas, is one of the largest things that this country has. Like it's sports, people follow their religion at the behest of other religions. To say that I have felt a little perplexed as to who and when people go to church is just my opinion as a secular and atheist European. That's on me, of course. But the polarisation between different factions of religion and the right to free speech that is protected at all costs causes me to be severely uncomfortable in my head. Like the people who stage anti-gay protests at gay funerals. That, in my head, is ethically wrong, but the state has to allow it. I am all for free speech, but it has to be responsible free speech. Or something.

Another thing that people here hold dear to their hearts is government casting red or blue colours on everyone. I see a country unable to function in some respects because it is too large. The arguement for Scottish devolution is that we need to be able to handle our finances and dealings as a country separate from the UK Government and in some cases, that is a good point. BUt the size of the UK means that really, all it should take is some consideration. This country is so vast and varied, the differences even between two neighbouring states like Texas and Oklahoma are so wide that it makes almost no sense to be part of the USA. Texas, in my mind, could so very easily be it's own country (again, as I should point out) and this breed contempt.

Think about it this way - this State is Red, or Republican. There is a Democrat president. The slander, propaganda and scare mongering surrounding the USA's plan for 'Socialist Healthcare' or the derogatory Obamacare name show that there is great division in the values of the people. There is no way in hell that the NHS of the UK could be replaced by the private health care that the USA have in place and, since living here, I can see that not having the NHS in a country might be one reason for me to never settle there. It scares me far too much to wonder who and where I should get my healthcare in the same way I consider going to get my car fixed. My life isn't the same as a car - a universal healthcare system in my mind is better than the private system.

But change is something that takes time and with Religion and Healthcare, maybe the USA will get better at it. I feel that, when I admit that I don't believe in God or that I was never baptised, that I am coming out to people and that it might change their opinion of me. I don't actually care that much about it, as no one should, but it's a quick of the country that I live in. Interstingly, the United States Consitution (the UK don't have one) it explicitly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The UK makes no so such distinction. It, in fact, has the Head of State (the Monarch) as the Head of the Church of England. So maybe, somehow, we are worse off than the USA? So why are we such a secular and atheistic culture?

I also have thoughts on Sexuality, Media and others, but they will have to wait.