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This blog submission is from Nancy Sathre-Vogel, author for the Family on Bikes blog. To read this blog in full or to access more from Family on Bikes visit their website or follow this link.
National Geographic wrote to me a while ago to ask if I
would participate in the Geography Awareness Week Blogathon. Seeing as how I’m
pretty passionate about kids understanding the world, I figured it was a
shoe-in. I put on my thinking cap to try and figure out what I would write
It came and bit me in the nose. I was browsing around on Facebook the other day and came
across this map:
It seemed like a humorous portrayal of the ego-centric
attitude so prevalent in America and I posted it on my wall just for grins. I
honestly thought everyone would agree with me that it’s a grossly inaccurate
representation of the world and of American people. I was wrong:
Within seconds of posting the map, I got this comment:
dude I love this, this isnt sad I proud of this this makes soo happy I love
america [pinky swear – I didn’t edit that one bit]
I was a bit confused by this comment. It’s not sad that
Americans would think of Canada as nothing more than a great big uninhabited
void? You’re proud of the idea that Americans think the entire middle east is
filled with evil-doers?
And then the whole thing went farther south.
Another Comment: were not closed minded you should see the rest of
the world most people in india and the middlr east never go more han 30 miles
away from home!!!
Me: It may be true that most people in India and the
Middle East never travel farther than 30 miles from their home, but I will
guarantee you that they know more about the world than most Americans. If you
show somebody in India a world map, they will most likely be able to identify
key countries around the world and will have a basic idea of those countries.
Many Americans have no clue.
Her: bill or riley said what makes a person liberal, what
is aliberal mindset? answer they have to hate america and always side agaisnt
america point proven America is the best people look up to us, when there is a
crisis they usa help us, they look to us when we make a decision,when america
votes for our president they look, when we do something they look at us, we
dont look at them, I mean america is the TOP DOG we are the ones to compete
with, You can call me whatever you want but the truth is still the truth, We
are number one and the critics hate us for it And I’m ok with that
Me: Oh my. I think you’ve rendered me speechless. All I
can say is that I hope you open your mind and allow yourself to see the world
as it truly is at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Her: you have a lot to learn your letting your pride and
your political correctness interfere with your ability to see the facts of the
matter its not an insult or a judgement its the truth. Until I came to germany
I didnt know I belonged to the best country in the world and then I educated
myself from travelling you guys should to
While the conversation was, in many regards,
extraordinarily hysterical, it was horribly sad as well. This young person
truly felt that America was the best and the only. America was the center of
the universe and the rest of the world should do our bidding. According to her,
every other country on our planet is far, far inferior to the great United
States of America.
Don’t get me wrong – I think America is a fabulous
country. I’m proud of my country and proud to say I’m an American. But I’ve learned America isn’t perfect. I don’t think anywhere else is perfect either.
I’ve been around the block a time or two and have learned
that it’s all about getting along. It’s all about recognizing that we may not
have the same skin color or speak the same language. We may not worship the
same god or spend the currency. But if we strip away all those wrappers,
underneath it all we’re all the same.
It’s about realizing that we’re global citizens and we
all inhabit this planet together. Decisions America makes affect India and
decisions they make affect us. The world is small and getting smaller by the
day. It’s up to us to learn to respect one another and look beyond the
differences. It’s up to us to understand that a smile means the same thing in
every language on earth.
It’s statements like this that scare me: We are number one and the critics hate us for it
The critics don’t hate us because we’re number one. They
may hate us because we’re arrogant and think they owe us the world and look
down our noses at them, but it has nothing to do with our actual superiority.
So what in the heck does all this have to do with National
Geography Awareness Week? Everything.
National Geographic defines geography as “more than
places on a map. It’s global connections and incredible creatures. It’s people
and cultures, economics and politics. And it’s essential to understanding our
Our interconnected world.
That’s the point here. That’s why it’s imperative that
the great United States of America bring back geography education to the
schools. That’s why we’ve got to work harder to help our young people understand
we’re all in this together.
We don’t want our young Americans saying things like, “I’ll
be damned if I let some leftist liberal hippies talk crap about America, and
you need to go back to school and learn abit about the world, by the sounds of
it you probably would of supported the nazis”
We need the future leaders of our country to understand
our role in the world and understand we’re not the only ones. We’re not the
best ones. We’re not superior. We all
stand on equal ground and need to work together.
Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes