Being or Becoming an American
What does it mean to be/become an American? According to a prominent historian Philip Gleason, to be or to become an American, one should not necessarily have any particular national, language, religious, or ethnic background. This individual must, however, believe in the political ideology based upon the ideals of equality, liberty, and republicanism. In fact, it is possible to infer that the ideological character of American nationality is open to all people willing to become American. Basically, to be/become an American entails behaving like Americans and accepting their lifestyle. But is this really that simple? Let us ponder over this question by analyzing the crucial elements of American culture.
One of the most fundamental aspects as far as being or becoming American is concerned, is embracing the freedom of speech. Not surprisingly, Americans may easily come across as extremely upfront and frivolous people outside the US. It can be easily explained by the fact that the freedom of speech is an inalienable part of America and its citizens are more than encouraged to express their points of view freely. This proves particularly useful as Americans are honest and do not make ambiguous statements just to reassure the interlocutor or to avoid conflicts. Nevertheless, enjoying the right to freedom of expression, American people are not allowed to hurt other people’s feelings.
Another hugely important facet of being/becoming American is to embrace one of the most diverse cultures in the world. The US is a country where it is hardly possible to define its citizens by just one particular race, nationality, language, or religion. It is a melting pot of various people coming from different cultures and backgrounds. In spite of the fact that some people claim that people of Native American descent alone can be called Americans. This notwithstanding we do not dare to restrict true American entity to certain race or ancestry, because what truly defines us is a system of strong political, social, and economic values.
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An interesting fact confirms that America unites people of multiple backgrounds. Let us remember the inscription on the Great Seal of the United States which reads, “E Pluribus Unum.” This Latin expression can be translated to English as “From many, one.” It is thus necessary to reiterate that being American does not mean belonging to one particular race or religion. Moreover, it does not even mean being born in the country, since taking the citizenship test and becoming an American citizen can also turn a person into an American provided that he/she is ready to fully embrace what American dream stands for.
In summary, being or becoming American is not restricted to the fact of being born in the country. Essentially, it is related to a strong desire to respect American values as well as the way of life and adhere to it. Thus, a genuine American is someone who holds freedom and equality in high esteem and attempts to become a part of rich American set of values regardless of the place of birth.