You often hear people talk about “western values”. The phrase is usually used in relation to all those values that we in the western/European world have in common. We don’t give it much thought. It rolls in and we accept the concept without critically thinking about if there is any logic behind it. The idea being that western values includes Europeans and us and the connection being that our country was founded on European enlightenment principles. So therefore we must share some progressive European idea about how the world is and how humans should interact. European democracies and the
I would posit that the way Americans and Europeans view liberty and freedom are different. Americans prize above all else the individual liberties, the right of each person in the
Some in American society value individual liberties more than others, libertarians being the extreme example, but all Americans prize individual opportunity. Our society holds entrepreneurial spirit above all else. Look at who we covet in our country; Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban and others. Our nation reveres the entrepreneur, the self-made man who amasses great wealth and/or economic power.
The dollar is the singular driving force behind most all decisions. That is not to say that other things are not valued on an individual basis, but you would have a difficult time convincing me that anything is more important in our society then money. Look at the indicators that we use to measure the strength of our society. They are economic indicators; economic growth, new home sales, the purchase of durable goods, the performance of stocks and bonds. You rarely see headlines touting how many people have been lifted out of poverty or how many uninsured people have been transferred into the ranks of those with health insurance. Likewise the economic indicator of consumer confidence is not held as particularly important by our Federal Reserve Bank.
I know this sounds a lot like
European societies also value liberty and freedom but the emphasis is not placed on the individual but on society. Obviously individual freedoms such as free speech and religious choice in
You can see that in how fiercely people in
I have this notion of societal maturity that is spinning around in my head. Perhaps Donald Rumsfeld hit on something when he referred to Old Europe and the