American Stew

I was sitting at work today, and I overheard one of the supervisors talking about his experience growing up on a reservation and how much things have changed. He was talking about culture and how the one he grew up in is almost non-existent anymore. And that got me to thinking. America is quite a unique country. We have no real culture as a whole. There are certain things that define us all as Americans, but many can define ourselves as something-American. Which really is part of our American culture.

Some people have held on to many of their heritage and define themselves by that: Native American, African-American, Latinos, and so many others. But there are many of us who are of European descent that is so far removed that not much, if anything, has survived of our ancestors’ cultural identity. Which really is sad, but it makes sense when you think about it. For a long time, immigrants came to America to start a new life and left much of their old behind.

But there are so many other types of cultures out there. Religions are a big one for many people. Being Catholic is a part of who I am, it’s a part of my identity, and I am a part of it’s culture. It’s a shared belief; a shared way of living; it even has a shared language. For many of my friends their religion is part of their culture, or one of the cultures in this nation they consider themselves a part of.

There are many cultures that are based on a common way of expressing oneself. Goth, Steampunk, Lolita, Cosplay. I’d call of these cultures. They all have a common attitude toward life in general, but also toward how they live their lives. I am a cosplayer. There really is a cosplay culture. I, cosplay as the Tenth Doctor from Doctor Who, can sit down with someone cosplaying from the anime series Hetalia Axis Powers and we would have so much in common even though we may know nothing about the series the other is cosplaying from. To me that says culture.

If you think about it, part of the American culture is being a part of so many different cultures. And you can choose to be a part of many of them and add to them. Historically people have said America is like a melting pot. They’re wrong. America is a stew; there is a common base binding us all together, but all our different cultures bring our own separate part, separate flavor, to the whole and makes the whole even better. Well, most of the time.

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