The Successes (and Failures) of the Great American Experiment

Okay, maybe these blogs were less rapidly posted than I anticipated…

Tremor: 5.1, Depth: 4.6 miles, Location: 3.7 kilometers from Amman, Jordan.

It’s strange to think, but there is hardly a person alive today that doesn’t remember a time without the United States as unimpeachably the world’s largest superpower. After the collapse during the Great Depression, and the recovery under Franklin Roosevelt, the United States capitalized on the situation and emerged as the preeminent world power, regardless of the claims made by Red Scare propaganda. While the rest of the world burned in the afterglow of Hitler and Hirohito, the United States rebuilt, and today has three times the G.D.P. of the second place nation. However, with this great and awesome power that we have paid for with blood, sweat, and tears, comes a great burden. Which brings me to “John”.

I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to include this person’s real name in my post, and after thorough deliberation, I’ve settled on the idea that it is better not to do so. However, what I can tell you about John is that he is a CIEE student on the Amman program, and he sat next to me at lunch.

“You know, I really don’t get it…”

“Get what?”

“So many people from Jordan go to America to study, and work, and they come back, but their internet is still so bad. And you can’t even flush toilet paper! You have to throw it away! I mean, you’d think they’d want to take our technology and fix their country.”

I had to take a long sip of water to prevent my jaw from falling wide open.

How could someone, especially someone who wanted to come and study in Amman like John, think that way, even for a second?! This is a nation that has opened its doors to millions of refugees without thinking twice. It is situated in one of the most water poor areas in the world, in one of the roughest neighborhoods, with a per capital G.D.P. eight times lower than that of the United States, and this guy is worried about the fact that the pipes may not be able accommodate his poop paper. I felt embarrassed for my country, and moreover, it was the most culture shock I’ve felt since I too found out you should not flush the toilet paper.

As if it was predetermined, that evening me and my roommate had a conversation with our host brother about the economic effects of the Iraq War and the influx of refugees on Jordan. He was telling us how the influx of refugees, many of them wealthy former inhabitants of Baghdad, caused prices of everything, from food to property, to rise by at least 300% over the past ten years, while wages have risen at a much lower rater. While there was much discussion of the affects of this on the Jordanian people, never once was their the suggestion that the Iraqis should have been turned away. This would have been simply unthinkable to the Jordanians, a people whose generosity is matched only by their heart.

This is the real image of America in the world, reflected all around this city. While we have become a great power not on the backs of others, but with their hands lifting us to glory, we often neglect the fact that we cannot force ourselves upon people who simply do not want us. We continue to strive for glory as a nation, sewn together from all backgrounds into a beautiful tapestry, but we cannot expect others to follow our path. We makes mistakes, and we make amends. We use our power for the Marshall Plan, not the Bush Doctrine. America is a great country, with great potential that will continue as long as we keep an unwavering commitment to all we value. And we could also do with a little less John.


About crazytvfan815

A nearly-20 college student about to spend a year in Amman, Jordan, having never traveled to the Middle East before, and not knowing a word of Arabic.
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