What's Your Take?
In America, our citizens have the greatest standard of living in the world, and yet we still see fit to complain about almost everything. I submit that Americans are indeed spoiled.
We are spoiled because we continue to expect first-rate social services, and then are unwilling to pay the taxes necessary to maintain them.
We are also spoiled when it comes to language. In America, the average person only knows English, and much of the time, we do not even learn English very well. And then we complain that the Latino immigrants need to learn English and assimilate into American society.
In my opinion this phenomenon of being spoiled is most clearly manifested in our rates of obesity. According to the American Obesity Association, 127 million adults are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese.
In America we focus all too often on our perceived hardships. We are angry about paying taxes, and then we are angry because we then have our social services cut. We will not bother learning another language come hell or high water, because we are Americans, and it is the foreigners job to learn English. We are obese, overweight, and unhealthy due to our gluttonous eating habits. This is our modus operandi, and I submit, that is a spoiled one.
Yes, Americans are extremely spoiled. We're not only spoiled, but we don't even realize what we have and how lucky we are to have it. We can read, we're educated, there are equal (mostly) rights for women and men, most of the country has pretty nice (compared to the rest of the world, anyway) housing, food on the table every night, and new clothes and toys more than once a year. We are ridiculously spoiled and most of us don't even realize how great we have it. We complain and complain about not having this latest toy, or enough money for those shoes that would match perfectly with that cute outfit we got for $100. When we're in the top 5% of the world wealth wise, no matter what kind of clothes you have, just if you have a sturdy roof over your head and food 3 times a day.
Meghan Zugibe, age 15, Rockalnd County, NY,
There is no doubt that Americans enjoy a much higher standard of living than most of the world. In some parts of the world children are being forced into slavery and made to join the military as child soldiers, whereas the U.S. has many laws in place to protect youth and all other citizens from this type of exploitation.
What America is, though - what America means is the concept of inalienable rights. These rights have allowed the United States to thrive economically, globally, and intellectually. It is from these rights that all our laws stem. Americans have become accustomed to having these rights, and the environment that goes along with it, but this does not make them spoiled.
Living under a system (though at times imperfect) that recognizes these rights can never be thought of as being spoiled. Perhaps Americans are more calloused to the worlds suffering because they are content in their lives and sated in their comforts, but the choice is still a personal one. No country or other entity is responsible for the actions of its individuals, because ultimately all there is in the world is the individual.
The burden of not taking one's rights and comforts for granted falls upon each and every one of us as personal choices. The U.S. indulges its citizens, but just as a general ultimately decides to use bombs that a company offers the military, so too each person is ultimately responsible for being grateful for their freedoms. Or, if you prefer a religious allusion, it isnt the apples fault that Adam was kicked out of paradise. In the end, the question really is: Are people in their nature spoiled?
Patrick Ward, age 16, Santa Fe, NM