America

What could be a simpler word than "America," the country in which we live? What could be wrong with using the word "America?"

Since this is early in deconstriction, several things: words arttee multi-contextual and simutextual

The word "America" covers many things:

  • a governmental administrative unit (more properly The United States of America, or the United States)
  • a historical nation: the history, rise, development of this administrative unit. This is a rich story with many powerful and riveting narratives.
  • a physical region on the planet Earth (though this has varied over time)
  • the environment and culture of this administrative unit in which I live out most of my brief life.

The word is also loaded with emotional association. "We" (another suspect word) are encouraged to "identify" with this entity, as in "Proud to be an American", as in "America: Love it or leave it," as in "Defending America." But very little of this is not taken for granted.

What are the underlying metaphors for the concept?

  • a person
  • parent (consider "fatherland", "patriotism"
  • a tribe
  • a team, our team

What are the connotations and feelings associated with the concept?

  • if it is our team, loyalty. If it not our team/country we have less sympathy
  • It is our country. We have ans should have a sense of ownership, care, protection and defense.

What are the problematic aspects of the concept?

  • Patriotism may be natural and easily understandable, but it is not clear that it is a good-concept for the future.
  • Should we not care equally for all people? This is what the morality of our major religions encourage.
  • At the very least we should reason about this. Perhaps local concern is the best we can do. Perhaps competition between nation-states is the best we can do. But there are string arguments against this, especially war and violence (though religion clearly plays a major part in this as well)

How does the concept tend to misleads us?

  • the emotions mislead us into thinking this is a unexamined concept, part of tribal solidarity
  • confuse government with people
  • We are encouraged in all sorts of ways to care more for our country and our people than we are to care for other countries and the people in those countries.

What are the contexts of this concept?

  • politics
  • personal identity
  • culture, history
  • cultural indoctrination, history

How should we talk about the things this concept is used to talk about?

  • Do not speak in emotionally loaded words. Or at least, do not think that emotionally loaded words are a substitute for reason.
  • Do not talk as though there is an America. Instead of saying, for example, "America supports Israel," say "The present ruling government of The United States has issued statements of support for this or that aspect of the present ruling government of Israel."
  • Recognize that the concept is deeply rooted (another metaphor) and is not easy to erase. We can all speak this language.

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