You can easily spot Americans abroad by their toughness. It comes from their sense of individual freedom – their first value and belief.
Americans realize however that individuals must rely on themselves, otherwise they risk to lose their freedom. They must come to both financial and emotional independence from their parents as early as possible, usually by age of 18 or 21. So, self-reliance usually is the second trait and moral value supposed to be obligatory to a true American.
It designates the ability of succeeding on one’s own. “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” is their saying as well as “Life is what you make it” and “Actions speak louder than words”.
The third national value accounts for their confident and unaffected manners. It’s the old belief that everyone in America has equal opportunity to succeed, an equal chance for success. This value is said to be particularly true at the times of settlers’
moving west to make a new beginning, from 1600s to 1890s. The differences in wealth between rich and poor were little at that time, so one’s fortune depended only On one’s industry. But if everybody had chance to better his living conditions, then everybody’s duty was to try, which led to the overall competition with one another. And up to now people who compete successfully are honoured and called “winners”. Those who do not like to compete and are failures are dishonoured and called “losers”.
Here we come to the fourth American value – competition. 60% of the Americans believe competition and desire to win are healthy and desirable. So you can hardly see a person wishing to look incapable or “a loser”. But you shouldn’t think that their optimistic look is but make believe. In spite of the fact that society can’t consist only of “winners” the Americans are optimistic. This trait proceeded from a “can-do” spirit of earlier settlers which had to be inventive experimenters and had come to believe that every problem has a solution: a difficult problem can be solved immediately – an impossible one may take a little longer. This “can-do” spirit was for all that strengthened by natural abundance and unmeasured territory.
It greatly reduced the conflict between the rich and the poor too. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” they say here.
As for the greater American dream “from rags to riches” it is still alive by far! It goes on attracting immigrants from all over the world.
The fifth national value is material wealth. Well, wealth but ought to become measure of social status and success in the society which rejected aristocracy with all its privileges Most Americans believe wealth is a reward for hard work and that it is possible to have a good standard of living if a person works hard. This conviction is believed to stem from the Protestant religion, which holds thai gaining wealth goes along with self-improvement of a person. “God helps those who help themselves,” says the proverb.
The sense of humour is often the most revealing aspect of a culture. Surely, humour has never been valued more highly in any civilization than in this one.
Humour is the great reliever of tension the counterbalance to the dash and roar oi our fastpaced industrialized life with its whirring machines, traffic snarls and frayed tempers.
American humour, in short, confirms the importance of mating and the family, the high status of women and children, the pace and tension of life.
Americans carry with them an appearance which is more a result of attitude than of clothing.