The United States is not understood by most of the world, which is why most of the world does not like or respect the United States. Unable to fathom American thinking, other nations find themselves applying their own perspective to our conditions, and when we do not do as they expect, they become suspicious and cynical of our stated goals and intentions, partly because of old U.S. history, and more often because of their own bitter experience.
In some ways, the United States is the senior partner for the planet. I say this not only because the United States has runs its country for the longest period under the same system of government (every nation on the planet besides the US, has changed its form of government since the US created its Constitution in 1783) , but because most nations which actually operate under the terms of their Constitution, modeled that Constitution after the U.S. Constitution. This means that nations are comparing an effectively short history of their own, to the relatively stable and trail-blazing standard of the Americans.
But it is also true that the United States is a new nation, in many ways. First off, while the U.S. form of government has enviable stability and success, as a people the Americans continue to grow and change. The most common thinking in 21st Century America was rare only a century ago, to say nothing of comparing the demographics of today’s average American to the colonial populace of 1781. The United States is also a strange bird to many other nations. The countries of antiquity are generally recognized by the nationality of their people - that is, the Greeks, Russians, Chinese and so forth are identified culturally much more than by their political functions. To most of the world, a country defined by its immigrants is beyond their comprehension. The United States, on the other hand, is constantly changing, as the races and nationalities of its people continue to change in proportion and interaction. It has been noted that only in America do Jews and Palestinians coexist peacefully, only in America do Serbs and Croats carry no feuds, only in America may people from both Taiwan and Beijing expect equal respect and treatment for their person.
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Government created a new authority for National Defense; the Department of Homeland Security. It was a strange sounding name for many people, but it identified a new self-image for America - we are a homeland. But where other nations are homelands for a race or ethnicity, America is a homeland for an ideal. We are a collaborative nation, made up of many parts and members, each worthy in its own right and possessing not only a unique identity, but a special place in the functioning homeland of the United States.
Over the coming week, I intend to examine the character and interests of some of the major groups participating in our homeland. But make no mistake; the emerging identity of America in the 21st Century is already coalescing, and this must be the focus of government planning and direction.