Beginning at birth, Americans grow up with the idea that there is no better place to live. We are told that America is the cornucopia of education, wealth and freedom, and people in other countries admire our situation and hope that one day they can experience it for themselves.
But what happens when we put our ethnocentrism on paper? Do we really reflect the greatness we boast about? Is our country really the best place to raise children, get an education and spend our lives? I was curious.
I read up on global rankings and our pride clearly does not reflect in the numbers. According to the Program for International Student Assessment, Americans ranked 24 out of 65 in the world for high school literacy. The U.S. also ranks 11th in fourth grade math and 17th in educational performance.
Surely, if our education is sub-par, we will succeed in other areas? Wrong again. America ranks 16th as the best place to be born, falling behind countries like Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and other countries in western Europe.
The numbers, recorded by the Economist Intelligence Unit, base the rankings off of national debt, cost of living and cost of education.
America scores high in other categories, though. We rank 10th in the number of bullied teenage females. It’s nothing to write home about, but hey, what can you do?
What we can do is curb our egos. Nationality is an important aspect to one’s identity. Saying that we’re proud to be Americans makes us feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves, which is psychologically positive. However, there is a difference between being proud of where we live and putting down other countries as underdeveloped, undereducated and culturally unsound.
Now, Ebola is a concern in America and not exclusively in African countries. We never gave more than a glance to articles, warnings and statistics about the disease and how serious it could grow to be.
Because we are so developed in our medical care, Ebola was less than a snippet of the things we lost sleep over. We didn’t care until it spread to Texas. Are we really beyond the tragedies in other countries?
The hardships of biology, oppression and the lack of a solution are shared between people of all nationalities, races and sexes. We are not above the struggles of other places around the world, and to think that America is isolated as a place of harmony, wealth and intelligence is ignorant. We have to ditch this mindset.
I love America, but I am now fully aware of our shortcomings. I didn’t write this column to bash Americans, but as a call to action. As college students, we are the future of America and it is up to us to make it better.
As future representatives of the American educational, political and economical system we will have the influence to make these numbers better than they are now.
If we make an honest effort to make America as great as we say it is, we will do much more than blindly accept it as the best and we won’t ignore deficiencies in the way our country is run.
Column by Carly Besser, Opinion Editor