I have spent the last decade up close and personal with American culture. I realize this does not make me an expert at all. I am however about to make a very short observation of American culture and why, as a non-American, I am deeply invested in your upcoming election.
Americans, in general, work hard and work smart. If work is to be had, it is celebrated. Teenagers and college students find entry-level jobs and then work proudly and well. This work ethic seems to naturally continue into adulthood. With the down turn in the economy, I have seen entire families knuckle down and work – some people holding down two or three part time jobs to make up for one lost in a family.
I know that there are homeless and hungry people in the United States and I know that there are multi-faceted reasons for this. I have found Americans to be generous and willing to help. In my last post I wrote about the CEO conference I attended. In the room with me were representatives of amazing non-profit organizations that exist solely to help those that are suffering in some way. Every one of these non-profits exists because of the generosity and care of hard working Americans.
When calamity strikes, as is happening with Hurricane Sandy, Americans respond. Although the extend of the damage is not yet known, a church I was visiting yesterday is already planning how they can give to needy families in the badly hit areas, all of whom are thousands of miles away from this church community. I celebrate the generosity of spirit within Americans.
My observations are that Americans have a strong work ethic, are smart, are generous and are caring. But sometimes you don’t realize what you have. Let me give you an example.
According to a Gallup survey, Americans report spending $151 on food per week on average. I find these kinds of numbers very interesting because I spend a large portion of my day figuring out ways to feed vulnerable people in Africa who have less than $10 a week to spend on food for their family. I am not at all quoting these figures to make you feel guilty about how much you spend on food. Rather, I celebrate your ability to feed your family well and I think it extremely important that you keep doing this.
So, with utmost gravity, I repeat myself. Sometimes, dear American friends, you don’t realize what you have and who you are.
Being a world superpower means exactly that – a huge amount of power. What happens in the United States of America affects the entire world. You have the power to determine what our world looks like. You, as individuals, carry a heavy responsibility. Your vote does not only determine what your country looks like. Your vote determines what OUR world looks like. Please do not take your responsibility lightly. There are many millions of people all over the world who would love to have your privilege. Please remember the amazing qualities you have as a people group, those very qualities that make you able to feed your families well and then vote with intentionality.