Life has once again gotten away with me. The Farmer was back in the ER about a week ago, or was it two? Anyway, they thought he might have a blood clot and his doctor sent him right over to have it checked out. Luckily, it was not the case but certainly something that had to be ruled out, especially having just been bedridden in the hospital.
It seems that I've left you all hanging, waiting for the rest of the story as to what my co-worker meant when she said Americans are strong. First of all, as Americans I think we need to cut ourselves some slack and not buy in to the negative press that floats around. I'm more apt to believe a real life person looking from the outside (another culture) in.
When I quizzed my co-worker she was very excited to share her ideas. Actually, blog reader and commenter Harriet came the closest with her appraisal:
"A very thought provoking question. I think it's a combination of attributes. The willingness to give a hand, tackle what needs to be done and get it done, go down for the count, get up, dust off your hands and keep on keeping on."
That is alot of what my co-worker expressed but the number one thing was self-reliance. She is amazed that Americans know how to do alot. According to her we are the epitome of multi-tasking and like Harriet mentioned we are willing and able to tackle just about anything.
This young woman was raised in a culture that employs lots and lots and LOTS of domestic help. Her family was upper middle class but she explained that middle, upper-middle and upper classes all have housekeepers, cooks, gardeners and other help. This is common in many parts of the world especially areas with large populations as everyone needs to job. As a child and a teenager she never had to do any chores but the downsize was that she never learned to do anything for herself. Learning to do these tasks for herself (after moving to the U.S.) gave her confidence and a sense of personal accomplishment.
She also cited something that Americans don't generally acknowledge - we are a nation of volunteers! A good portion of what needs to be done in this country is accomplished by those who ask for nothing, who roll up their shirtsleeves and get it done for the love of helping others.
The pioneer spirit lives on in those who are willing to take chances, get thrown down, pick themselves up and move on. The Farmer and I have been in dire situations several times in our lives. At one point we were both unemployed with no clue where our next mortgage payment was coming from. We were raised in blue collar households where the message was, "There is help. It's at the end of your arm."
The Farmer, with three college degrees, found a job delivering newspapers in the middle of the night. Was it beneath him? Heck no!! He did this while he conducted a job search.
We are also products of our parents. My father served in World War II and just as he and my mother were saving some money for their first house, he was called in to serve in Korea. I never, ever heard him complain that their lives and plans were interrupted. It was his duty, its was the law and he served. When he was discharged they got on with their lives.
The story of Flight 93 on September 11 points out the take-charge attitude that my co-worker notices. Knowing the grim facts of their situation thanks to the honesty of their loved ones, these people made the decision to DO SOMETHING, to not be a party to the terrorists plans. Staying in their seats would basically have made them accomplices and these everyday Americans would have none of that, even if it meant their lives.
And there you have it - self-reliance, take-charge, tackle the project, work hard, volunteering.... strength, American-style, according to someone looking in.