In my last two posts I have waxed lyrical about the USA, and it is pretty obvious that despite my reservations (and if I’m honest, a certain determination not to like it) I really am rather fond of America. I have previously observed some of the reasons why I think this country measures up so well against good old Blighty, and in writing these posts I began to wonder why that is. After all, America is a world away from the UK in almost every sense, and yet the two countries are considered to be quite comparable in so many way. So what makes the USA seem so golden?
One of the most satisfying things about the areas of America we visited is that they are cultural diverse. The term I thought of in my head was a ‘cultural cocoon’, by which I mean that America has nurtured a diversity of culture, allowed it to grow over time and spring out in the late 20th and early 21st centuries into something incredible. To explain what I mean by this it is necessary to take a brief glimpse into the past.
In the late 15th century when Columbus rocked up on San Salvador (now The Bahamas) it was a meeting of two very different cultures. This was a fitting start for a country that was to become the focal point for countless different nationalities to collide and try to coexist. A country that was, in many ways, a real life Eldorado, attracted people from all over the world seeking a better life and a piece of the untold riches that were on offer. As the country was slowly colonized English, Irish, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portugese (to name but a few) mixed together with native people, creating a melting pot diversity and creativity. Of course there was an awful lot of conflict as well, as is inevitable, but arguably no other country has been created and evolved with multiple cultures merging together rather than a dominant one leading the way. Take Britain as a comparison; it has been conquered many times in the past, but with each change the new culture has sought to establish itself above the others. In America however, arguably, the opposite happened and multiple cultures came together to create a new, United, culture. This true multi-cultured land has obviously taken a long time to find the right footing, and there have been a lot of problems along the way (there are still problems), but I believe it is this cultural diversity that has allowed America to grow and become something more than the sum of its parts, in a way that other countries simply haven’t had a chance to do.
The land that is the United States of America was founded on ideals and dreams that were the product of many cultures coming together. These dreams were bigger than any one culture and what they have done is create something that in turn is equally impressive and awe inspiring. It is a country that has broad appeal and manages to impress at almost every level. Looking at the American tourism industry you can see how this is the case. Orlando is a city that must rely hugely on the tourism industry and it is home to the two most famous theme parks in the world (with both adults and children); Disney and Universal Studios.
For me, Universal Studios is an analogy of America. It is out of this world in its creativity and it is where you can believe that your dreams can come true. Skeptics would then also point out that the analogy can be extended to say that it is also an allusion and behind it is just a faceless money grabbing machine. You can read into that what you wish. But bear with me for a second, because the best way to describe Universal is that it is like Alton Towers on steroids. What they have done is create a place that comes close to the world that the films create, when you suspend disbelief for a while and embrace the thrill of living the dream. people often moans that “American’s always have to do it bigger and better than everyone else” and Universal is an example of this. But that isn’t a bad thing. It is ingrained in their culture to dream big and to be diverse.
So what is the moral of my three part post excelling the virtues of America? Well I suppose there are many. You can read from it what you like, but for me the thing I took away from there the most (other than great suntan, too many photos, great memories and 12lbs of extra belly) is that if you want to dream big and stand a chance of succeeding then America is probably the place for you. This might seem a little dramatic and you may dismiss it, but I will sum up my view with one simple image.
Launchpad 39a at Kennedy Space Centre is the launchpad where the Apollo space missions launched from. This is the very platform that astronauts who walked on the moon launched from in the 60s and 70s, relying on technology with less power than a iPhone. I was over awed when I stood and took this picture because this is still, to this day, in my opinion the pinnacle of human technological and adventuring achievement. The NASA complex shows how much can be achieved if you are willing to dream and to believe in those dreams. The Russian’s may well have gone in to space first and still fly more missions than NASA do, but the American’s did it with style and made the world dream of something more beyond the stars. Just remember…“nothing beats an astronaut!”