History entertains us with the stories of Roman empires, the territorial tales of the Ottoman Empire, and the swash-buckling British empire; but what about the Americans’ imprint on the world? Although not really an empire in the traditional sense, Americans have left an imprint of culture, influence, and global economics around the world. Most if not all countries have a section of society who will take pride in their nationalism. In Thailand, all citizens stand still in public twice a day to respect the monarch. Indians have a high sense of national pride with over 40% of her citizens believing she is the best country in the world. The Brits are still vocal about their past empire and world war victories, but when it comes to national pride, the good old USA just seems to have the edge.
The United States is proud of its past, but shouldn’t most countries be super proud of their past achievements? When it comes to achievements and inventions, the United States is no mere two bit player on the world stage. The moon landing is not to be sneezed at and the auto industry was a major industrial shot in the arm that has been replicated across the world. Then we have the invention of the worldwide omnipresent cellphone, the less visible submarine, and let’s not forget the world’s first nuclear reactor – all US projects and inventions. The PC and tech revolution that’s taken the world by storm is largely American, not to mention the internet, without which you probably wouldn’t be listening to this right now. All this was achieved in a relatively short space of time, following America’s involvement in World War II, a war that was crucial in helping to achieve an allied victory crushing the Axis Powers and giving birth to the new world as we know it.
National pride or patriotism is love and devotion to one’s country, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. In the United States, and other larger countries such as Russia and China, national pride has a deep dimension. Each negative event that happens against a nation can reinforce a love for the country. Men and women every day from all nations do not hesitate to join the army and to prove their national pride with the business end of a semi-automatic rifle, and not always in a conflict that they fully understand. Americans, however, aren’t always so fast to sign up for the war effort. In 1964, American citizens took a stand against their country’s involvement in the Vietnam War, demonstrating against the government in what became a broad social civil liberties movement. Many of those within the peace movement were students, moms, or anti-establishment hippies. Opposition grew with African-American civil rights, women’s liberation, and other marginalized sectors of the community, who all considered American involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake, a view echoed decades later by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
It has been said that Americans don’t travel overseas much, and according to the Huffington post in a 2012 article, only 3.5% of Americans travel abroad, although they do take lots of domestic holidays, and who can blame them with such a vast country to visit. Is it any wonder that when Americans do leave the States, they have a somewhat inflated opinion of their home country and therefore feel superior to some of the places they travel to, and therefore leave the impression that they have a national superiority complex?
But not all Americans feel their country is superior. Although there are no true reliable figures, a 1999 State Department estimate suggests that there are between 3 and 6 million Americans living outside of the United States. The countries most visited by Americans include Germany, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. A certain brand of travel known as genealogy tourism is undertaken by Americans, whereby they travel to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, or wherever they have traced their ancestors to, and this type of travel is typically, by definition, of a respectful nature. Those who travel to the countries of their ancestors, and there are many Americans who do so, cannot be totally driven by a nationality bias, so on that basis, Americans aren’t snobby travelers.
According to an academic study on American’s superiority by Tappin, Ryan and McKay, most Americans strongly believe they are virtuous and moral; yet, they regard the average person as distinctly less so. In the study, participants judged themselves and the average person on traits reflecting the core dimensions of social perception: morality, agency, and found themselves distinctly better qualified than the next person. It should be noted that in this study, Americans were judging themselves against predominately other Americans, however the sense of overall judgment without doubt travels fondly overseas.
National pride also seems to be a generational phenomenon, with the older generations being more nationalistic than the younger generations. As younger generations tend to travel, and the gap year among students becomes more popular, national pride does seem to be quietly fading among Americans. The more we travel around the world and experience different cultures, the less nationalistic we are, as national pride is often deeply rooted in the ignorance of other countries and cultures. It is basic human behavior that we fear what we don’t know, and we accept and admire what we recognize and understand. But with that said, a little national pride is nothing to worry about, provided it doesn’t go overboard.
So, is there a difference between arrogance and ignorance? Can we feel a bit of pride without coming across looking all superior? And just who are the most arrogant nations abroad? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Can you Die of Loneliness? Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!