American Ignorance about under-developing countries

There are several misconceptions that Americans have toward people who live in under developing countries due to how American society portrays them. Those misconceptions allow Americans to imagine how they live and look like, which create certain suppositions that aren’t always positively true.

In most American classrooms, we are taught about gratitude which pertains to teaching student’s ‌social and ethical skills. As students get older, they begin to hear phrases such as, “Don’t waste your food, there are starving children in Africa” or “Be grateful that you have clothes on your back; there are people who don’t have any.” When children hear phrases as such, they may begin to form an image in their mind in thinking that ALL “poor people” are alike. This mentality forces Americans from a young age to place themselves on a high pedestal, overlooking the other countries that they assume don’t have the same benefits or resources, as them. Little do many know that the disadvantages of many underdeveloped countries have to do with certain cultural or historical reasons, whose in authority and how their economic system has been dealt with over the last century or so.

For example, according to Reasons behind Haiti’s Poverty by Karen Fragala Smith, “Haiti was the wealthiest colony in the New World and represented more than a quarter of France’s economy.” Yet, “After a Haitian slave revolt defeated the French army in 1801, the newly independent nation became the first country in the New World to abolish slavery.” From then on, Haiti’s economy went down hill during the 20th century, due to natural disasters, an epidemic of HIV, and environmental devastation. Therefore, “Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, but its culture and history are undeniably rich.” At one point America wasn’t doing so well either, if it wasn’t for the end World War II, and the reduction of taxes and spending, who knows how else we would have dealt with the Great Depression. To be merely proud of your country isn’t wrong because we all have the right to be patriotic about where we come from. Yet, to denigrate another country with its present situation is fairly wrong.

According to Most Americans think the U.S. is great, but fewer say it’s the greatest  written by Alec Tyson, “38% said the U.S. stood above all others, while 53% said it was one of the greatest nations and 8% thought some others were better than the U.S.” Most Americans happen to grow up having a nationalistic mentality towards their country with what they are told to be proud of, just as any country is with their resources and benefits. As to 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Proud To Be An American by Lauren Fulte, a couple of reasons that we should be proud to be American are freedom, opportunity, unity and diversity. In reality those reasons are all opinion based and can be viewed differently by others who live in “underdeveloped countries.” Although these characteristics may generally seem true, in several cases, it may not be true. For example, diversity may exist in the United States but racism still exists in that all races aren’t accepted in all neighborhoods. Diversity is viewed differently and exists across the globe, so we shouldn’t take one aspect that we have and say that we’re better than the rest of the under developing world.

The first place that comes to mind when most Americans think of the under developing world is Africa. Usually that is because on national television, we watch commercials that ask for donations to send to Africa and constantly seeing that gives you an exclusive image of what Africa is like if you haven’t been there.

The way that the media and society portrays other countries alongside their own ends up causing a backfire effect for many principles that are placed about our country. The United States is considered to be, “a North American nation that is the world’s most dominant economic and military power” according to U.S. News.Yet if you do research about our country being in debt, where our resources come from and how we deal with other worldly causes, you wouldn’t say that our country is the best for a fact, in any aspect.

Many misconceptions that people have about underdeveloped countries are that all of the people are dying of starvation, they all live in rural areas or that the reason for poverty in certain areas are because of bad decisions that they’ve made. These myths and misconceptions reveal the lack of knowledge people have about countries other than their own. Once they do their research on the on those countries, they’ll realize that the information that they had before was ‌wrong.

Therefore, Americans shouldn’t make assumptions on how, and why the people who live in under developing countries live in the way that they do. Those stereotypes conquer many peoples perspectives toward underdeveloped countries, and so as to change that, research needs to be done, the media needs to change how they display those countries as a whole and society needs to be more aware of the actual causes of the issues going on across the globe. They shouldn’t simply send volunteers or donate food and water because eventually the good deed becomes temporary. Donating water, food, clothes and other resourceful products to those countries does a great deed, but once those resources finish, people will eventually need to find a way to get those resources alone.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Anne Isabelle


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