What a rollercoaster the past week has been. How does one even begin to follow up a blog post that has gone viral? Never, ever did I imagine that when I wrote out my thoughts about American Sniper (took me all of 20 minutes), millions of people would read them. A few hundred? Sure. But millions?
Thanks, y’all, for reading. Thanks for sharing, and thank you for commenting and reaching out to me. I am truly overwhelmed and humbled.
I found the reaction to this post quite interesting. As I read through the comments, there were several themes that stuck out to me, many questions raised, and a whole lot of gratefulness for our military members who have so honorably served and are currently serving our country.
I won’t address all the themes, comments and questions in this post because it would take forever to write and even longer to read (I’ll try to get to them all eventually), but I do want to address one thing first—the American Bubble.
There were strong reactions to my suggestion that many Americans live in a “bubble.” While many of you whole-heartedly agreed with me, others of you were very quick to point out that no such bubble exists, and perhaps I’m either too quick to jump to conclusions about our American culture or I’m just plain delusional. For those of you who think the latter, the only response I have is: thanks for reading the blog. 🙂
I argue that the American Bubble is very real, and far too many people live inside it.
First off, let me define what I believe this “American Bubble” is.
- To me, the American Bubble exists for those who are unaware of history, religion, culture, politics, economics, and current events and how all of those things are tied together throughout our world. I don’t mean Americans need to be scholars in these areas, just have general awareness.
- The American Bubble exists for those whose greatest concerns in life are trivial matters—those who are perfectly content with accepting that life exists only inside of their own understanding; that their world is small and needs to stay that way.
- The American Bubble exists for those who believe that one human cannot affect the life of another for the better.
Let me expound on that last statement. Far too many people believe that their impact on the world is too trivial to make a difference. They believe that they can’t do anything to make the world better for others, so they might as well not even try—in fact, some go so far as to flat out ignore the plight of others in various parts of the world because they see it as “too sad” or “just too uncomfortable.”
And I think that’s the essence of the American Bubble—comfort.
Too many people are unwilling to move their hearts and minds outside of their comfort zones in order to accept the reality of the world and attempt to do anything to make the world better.
Two points I want to make here:
- I do not believe that most of these folks in the Bubble are purposefully ignorant. Many of them simply haven’t been taught.
I was privileged enough to grow up as an Army brat with parents who openly discussed religion, geography, history, and current events, among other things, around our nightly dinner table. I was lucky enough to have the kind of upbringing that exposed me to all kinds of people and places, opening my eyes to the beauty of the world at an early age.
Not every kid grows up like this. I’m very well aware.
In my years of experience as a high school Social Studies teacher (throughout my career I have taught US History, World History, American Government and Comparative Religions), I often find myself shocked at the lack of knowledge high school students have. They have no base for understanding the Social Studies for two reasons: their home situation either doesn’t allow for them to have exposure to these things from the adults or older people in their lives or their parents are in the American Bubble and simply don’t know enough to talk to their kids about these subjects.
Another problem is that Social Studies is the most undervalued subject in American education. Just ask any elementary teacher. When they are out of time and need to cut something, what’s the first to go? Social Studies. Why? Because our education system places so much weight on math, science, and reading that there’s no time left for the valuable lessons Social Studies brings to making a well-rounded student. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying math, science, and reading aren’t vital—Social Studies actually ties into all the other subjects in a vital way, too, if given the opportunity). Middle school and high school are the same way. In my state, we require only 3 credits of high school Social Studies to graduate, while all other core subjects require four.
I’ll save the rest of my spiel on what’s wrong with education in America for another post. 🙂
My point is, young people haven’t been taught. Then they grow up into unaware adults and the cycle repeats itself. Is this in part due to our culture and our ever-constant shift away from the traditional family? I’m not sure. But I know many adults who just don’t know what’s going on in the world, how we got here, and what we can or should do about it. And I know even more teenagers who are the same way. Thankfully, as a teacher, I have the opportunity to do everything I can to education my students—and trust me, I’m making the most of that opportunity.
- The second point I want to make goes to the idea that far too many people believe they can’t make a difference in our world.
I’m certainly not suggesting that once we’re out of the American Bubble of blissful ignorance we should sell all our possessions and join the Peace Corps or become an international missionary (if you want to do that, awesomesauce!)—I’m simply suggesting that there are plenty of ways that we, even right around our own families and communities, can make a difference, and while those differences may seem small, they have a huge impact on the lives around us.
When I mentioned in my American Sniper post that Evil does indeed exist all over our world, I mentioned that we needed to combat it in all areas—from international war zones to the battlefields of our own hearts.
I believe this is one of the ways we improve the world—we start with improving ourselves. We must rid ourselves (as best we can) of hatred, greed, pride, and anger, and put our energies into helping and serving others.
**Side note: My personal belief is that the only way to be able to successfully do this is to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. When you know Him as your personal Savior, combating this evil is so much easier because you have the tools with which to fight. I know there are some of you who won’t agree with this, and that’s okay. This is my worldview. Yours may be different. But if you are interested in learning more about Jesus or my worldview based on Christianity, please contact me. If you’re not interested, just remember that our goal is one and the same: making our world a better place.**
Whether you run the largest humanitarian organization in the world or you simply stop to help an older person carry their groceries to the car, the essence of improving our world lies, I believe, in ridding ourselves of the sin of pride (self-focus) and instead focusing our hearts on serving others.
Little things do make a big difference. Give kind words. Volunteer. Donate money. Sponsor a child (click here to check out WorldHelp for awesome child sponsorships).
Prayer can do mighty, mighty things, folks.
Some of these might seem too small and insignificant to make a difference, but I’ll tell you what—our God can do amazing things with the smallest offerings. There’s miraculous proof of that not only in the Bible, but right around us all the time. We need only look for it. We need only act on the opportunities we are given to serve others, even when we feel like they are not really opportunities at all.
Because we live in America, many of us live in relative “comfort” compared to other nations in the world. We’re blessed in that. We’re blessed that we have opportunity and access to education and clean water. While these things are definite blessings, I believe that our access to comfort might have made many of us complacent to the realities of the world. This is an example of us living inside the Bubble—complacency.
And I believe living inside the Bubble, for many, is a choice.
Too many times I’ve heard people say, “I don’t watch the news. It’s just too sad.” Perhaps that’s you. Folks, I’m here to tell you that unless you keep up with current events, not only can you not come out of your Bubble, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the happy going on in the world, too. Yes, there is sadness. There is Evil. There is tragedy. But there are also stories of those who have popped that American Bubble and are doing whatever they can, even in some small way, to make the world around them better. That’s hope, folks, and hope is just about the best news ever.
Many of you let me know that you didn’t need to see a movie like American Sniper to come out of “the Bubble” because you were never in one.
I think that’s fantastic. And rare. I’m so glad that you are more aware of the state of the world and how you can affect it than many others seem to be.
I would like to think that I don’t live in the American Bubble. I’m too much of a student of the world for that. However, that movie jolted me into the reality of what our soldiers face during war time; what our soldiers currently fighting in the Middle East are facing right now. Perhaps you didn’t need that reminder. But I did. And I’m grateful for it because although you won’t find a person in the US who is more grateful for our military than I, I simply needed a reminder of the conditions they face during war time, the struggles they have readjusting once they’re home again, and the realities the families face when their loved one is at war. I was in the Bubble and I didn’t even realize it. I think that can happen to us, too. We get so caught up in our own lives that even if we think we are aware of what’s going on, all we’re aware of is self. That’s pride, and pride leads to selfishness, which is pretty much the opposite of what we’re going for here.
For me, American Sniper wasn’t only about Chris Kyle’s story—it was the story of every man and woman in all branches of our military who has ever had to face an enemy and how life-changing those encounters can be, not just for that person, but for all those who know and love him/her.
Even as a military brat who experienced a life lived with a father deployed to a war zone, I needed the reminder.
The American Bubble is a real thing. I would argue that it’s not just an “American Bubble,” but can be applied to anyone in the 1st world who refuses to acknowledge the realities of how current events, politics, economics, and religion play a vital role in how our world interacts and where we’re headed.
It’s never too late to get educated. It’s never too late to learn. Even if you are educated, it’s never too late to get a little reminder; a dose of reality to make you realize how blessed we are to live in this great country, where we have the freedom not only to choose whether or not to stay inside the American Bubble, but the freedom to do something, even something small, to serve humankind.
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Share with me: What are your thoughts on the “American Bubble?” Do you think it exists? Are you in it or out of it?