Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I like living in Asia

I recently became the topic of a Facebook thread. I certainly did not mean for this to happen, but it did; and for reasons unrelated to the couple of personal insults directed towards me, I did get a little angry.

The thread started with a post about the concealed carry law being proposed in my home state. I will admit up front that I know nothing about this. I have been a little too busy to keep up-to-date on all of the wonderful ways in which Walker wants to put WI on the path to 3rd-world-ism. I digress.

In response to the post I made a joke concerning weapons, Bush, Palin, and Walker. My friend who made the post recognized this as such since he is a wise person and can realize that I do not lay awake at night waiting for Palin to shoot me from a helicopter hovering over my home in Taiwan. My friend is for the proposal, but I am not. This is not a problem between us because, again, my friend is a wise person and can understand that a difference in opinion does not mean that either of us thinks poorly of the other.

One of his FB-BFFs however got personal with me. I have seen posts from this individual before and so I already know to expect as much from him. I am not personally bothered by this. My sweet friend perhaps was bothered though because he proceeded to defend me. The thread digressed into a discussion over my intelligence. I would have been amused, but then the “difference” between “intelligent” and “educated” got thrown into the mix. This is where I needed a break from FB.

I won’t deny that intelligent and educated are not synonyms, however, this particular little debate has arisen in several conversations I have been a part of or have read online recently and the implications being made are clear. Educated has become a dirty word in American English, and intelligence has become a meaningless word that describes everyone.

The attacks on education in my own state aside, I see this also in the right wing descriptions of president Obama as well as in other areas of the media. To be a teacher is to suggest that one wasn’t intelligent enough to do something meaningful with their life, and to be educated is to be shunned. The educated have become the ranting sidewalk lunatics. “Just ignore the crazy man sweetie, he’s just educated, he doesn’t count.”

I don’t have this problem here in Taiwan. I don’t go around with a sandwich board announcing that I am here to do research for my PhD, but when people ask me what I am doing here, I tell them the truth. In some cases people react as if they are a bit intimidated, but in most cases people are simply impressed. Either way I have never been treated like a leper for what I have chosen to do with my life, and rather than being ignored when I give my opinion on something I am engaged in healthy debate on the topic and taken seriously. I can say the same for my life in the States.

This is, in my opinion, the rot of American culture. America is a great country, but this is at the heart of our current slow downfall. It makes my angry because I am an American, wherever in the world I may be, and I am tired of being the brunt of other people’s jokes. Yes, America, many people around the world still envy the image of you, but just as many are laughing at you.

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