Reluctant Fundamentalist Creative Response

Reluctant Fundamentalist creative

America is a complex place. As one of the economic powerhouses in the world, the nation has an expectation of its citizens to perform at the highest level, uniting the population in a common goal of excellence. However, the culture is also one of the most diverse in the world, with huge immigrant populations throughout the country. Institutionally, the United States has actively chosen not to pursue the “melting pot” route. Looking at the distribution of different ethnic and cultural groups, it is clear both that specific groups choose to move together (for example, Kenyans in Missouri or Ethiopians in Washington DC) and that the government designates the destinations of new immigrants depending on their ethnicity. This decision is controversial, as it makes one’s ethnic identity much more salient than it would be without this system of organization. Within the United States, there are numerous communities that seem removed from the country itself, independent regions that speak their own language and practice their own cultures with no regard of the rest of the country. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Yes, it fosters a disconnect within our country, but diversity and freedom of expression are essential to our national identity. Imagine a society like the one depicted in the painting. All cultures come together into this large melting pot, tearing the individual between two realms: his projected identity, the one that conforms with society, and his internal identity, the one that he or she struggles to cling to within their minds or households. Regardless of societal salience, one’s ethnicity, or at least one’s background will always have a profound impact on ones’ identity and motivation in life. Therefore, the detraction of ethnic and cultural identification will only shift the struggle to an internal one, one that the individual must struggle with without the support of their officially unrecognized social groups. Therefore, although ethnic salience might create conflict between different groups, as it clearly does in America, it also provides affinity where there would not be without the salience, and allows for heightened expression to deepen our national identity and educate the citizens as to the many backgrounds that happen to be heading in the same direction as them. In my mind, that’s what America should represent: endless backgrounds that, through discussion and immersion, can work towards similar directions. We certainly do not have exactly that right now; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A diversity of directions can be just as important as a diversity of backgrounds so that societies can gain more perspective on the different goals within the society and the different possibilities to achieve progress.

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