It is believed that we learn our culture only through knowledge ofother cultures. That is why it is necessary to compare and analyze theirbasic values and beliefs.
The most important thing to understand about American is probablytheir devotion to individualism. They have been trained since very early intheir lives to consider themselves as separate individuals who areresponsible for their own situations in life and their own destinies. Theyhave not been trained to see themselves as members of a close-knit, tightlyinterdependent family, religious group, tribe, nation, or othercollectivity.
Conversely Russians find themselves part of some group. Theyalways have some kind of attachment, especially family relations.
Another distinctive difference is in the attitude to change and future. Americans are generally less concerned about history and traditionsthan are people from older societies. “History doesn’t matter,” many ofthem will say. “It’s the future that counts.” They look ahead. People frommany other cultures, as well as Russian, have a pronounced reverence forthe past.
In those cultures the future is considered to be in the hands offate, God, or at least the few powerful people or families dominatingsociety.
Time is also of great importance in the USA. For Americans, time is aresource, like water or coal, which can be used well or poorly. “Time ismoney.” Thus, Americans admire a well-organized person, one who has awritten list of things to do and a schedule for doing them. The idealperson is punctual and considerate of other people’s time.
Russians aremore likely to conceive of time as something that is simply there aroundthem, not something they can use.
The values and beliefs that we point out as national can be foundworldwide. But what is plausible in the USA is not quite valid in Russia. Whereas Americans value one concept, in Russia it is not paid any specialattention.