A Culture Cannot Understand Itself

I am taking a MOOC now about Unethical Decision Making, that makes the point, over and over, that ethics is determined by social contexts – in other words, by culture.

This fits in with my eternal questions about the culture I grew up in – Midwestern America, and America in general. I just said to myself this morning “Americans don’t know how awful they are!” As far as they are concerned – they are perfectly normal. And they strongly resent anyone who says otherwise.

They know, at a nonconscious level, that they are awful – in fact, they are proud of it – but this makes them very sensitive, at the conscious level – to any criticism of it. They want to be bad – but praised for being good.

Whamo! I think I have stumbled onto something important in that last sentence. Allow me to repeat it:

They want to be bad – but praised for being good!

This is the basis for the neoliberal economy – that states “Greediness makes Goodness.” Ironically, as they never tire of pointing out – this is true – but it also has many problems (economically and  socially). That it cannot solve.

Americans will admit that this is so – but will also say there is nothing they can do about it. That’s just the way it is – take it or leave it.

I left it, and now live in Costa Rica. That doesn’t have the money – but still likes people.

Americans think this is not that important. They are developed – and that is all that matters!

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