Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don't Tell Me I Don't Value My Family!

This post is a continuation of the active discussion on my post entitled "The Grand Engagement of Romance and Politics", with special attention to the issue of the Eastern views of the Western's valuing of the family, more specifically on the American Family.

I don't presume to judge other cultures' ideas of family. It irks me when people outside the U.S. suggest that we Americans don't care about family.

The U.S. is huge, geographically, and we are free to travel, live, work, and move within its borders. Naturally, that leads to widely scattered families as children grow up and leave to attend school or to find jobs, and parents retire to their dream homes. Travel within the U.S. is relatively cheap and easy; we keep in touch, and we visit. It's never often enough to suit our parents, but we don't move across the country just to avoid each other. We keep in touch by mail, by phone, by email, chat, and Web cams.

How many people come to the U.S. on student visas - and stay? Maybe they're just trying to get as far away from their families as possible! How many people leave their homeland to work in the U.S.? Perhaps they don't value family.

Here's the reality I grew up with:

My great-grandmother moved in with my grandparents before my mom was born, and lived with them until she required skilled nursing care - more than twenty years later. My parents and I lived with my grandparents for the first four years or so of my life, while my mom and dad attended college. Years later, we moved back in to help my grandmother take care of my grandfather following his heart attack. This wasn't extraordinary, to my way of thinking; this was what "family" was about, taking care of our own.

My husband is not from the U.S., originally. People have asked me, "Are there major cultural differences? Big adjustments?" Not really. Family comes first. While we were dating, my husband never asked me choose between him and my family; he never once asked me to break the rules and rebel, or put a date with him before a commitment to some family event. He treated my parents and grandparents with kindness and respect, and they had no difficulty seeing what I saw in him.

Trust and mutual respect are crucial. The rest just falls into place. I grew up an only child, so you might say that acquiring two brothers and a sister by marriage was a big "adjustment," but it has enriched my life immeasurably.

My father-in-law was surprised that I "let" him live with us over the past eleven years. To do otherwise would be unthinkable in his culture, but like so many people outside the U.S., he seemed to think it was some anomalous and extraordinary thing that I would want him to live with us. I say we really need to be more careful what TV shows we export. When people overseas get their notions of "American culture" from a mix of Fox News, American Idol, and reruns of Little House on the Prairie and Three's Company...there's a problem. Our "reality shows" are not real at all.

So, needless to say, my father-in-law was stunned. But most of the people I know - friends, coworkers, and folks down the street - would do the same for their families. Being a "tight-knit family" doesn't require cramming everyone into a single home; being dependable doesn't mean fostering dependence - quite the opposite. The only people I know of to be "kicked out" and made to fend for themselves are those who are under a "tough love" edict - people who do drugs or can't function for themselves because they're so content to take advantage of others. There, it may be fair to turn them out, at least for a while, but that's more of a "teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime" kind of thing, rather than a lack of caring or a sense of family. And there are sad cases of mental illness or physical disability requiring specialized care that a family simply isn't equipped to provide - personally or financially. I see that as a failure of the social services and healthcare systems we've set up, and something that should be a shared community burden.

Here, in the U.S., we have the families we are born into, and the families we choose. We have traditional married-with-children families, couples who are childless by choice, single parents, gay couples, adoptive families - and these ties are strong.

Then again...there are families like these. It isn't the homelessness that hurts the worst, but the abandonment by family. I can't deny that there are selfish, thoughtless people who turn their backs on their own parents or children, and I won't even pretend to understand how or why they do it. They have their reasons, and to judge them without knowing their side of the story may be as wrong as it is to condemn Americans for having no appreciation of family. All I know is this: So long as I have a roof over my head, family in need can sleep under it and share my food - provided they don't put other family members' health or safety at risk through their behavior. I doubt that selfish people are unique to the U.S., and maybe it's better to be cut adrift from people who could turn their backs so easily than to be taken in, resentfully, or abused.

"Family" puts pressure on people - makes them want to do more, to be better. When someone can't provide for their family, their family is a daily reminder of their failures and shortcomings. Sometimes, the pressure is too much, and people seek to escape. Financial troubles break up too many marriages, and broken marriages too often lead to broken families. Perhaps it stems from a lack of hope and the feeling that nothing in life is in your control. My husband would point out that poverty and lack of education are usually to blame - no matter where in the world you look, it comes down to resources and opportunities. I think it isn't that we place little importance on family; it's that we place so much importance on it. No one wants to fail at the thing they care about most; when we let our families down, frustration and powerlessness turn to self-loathing.

From the media, people get unrealistic ideas about sex and what constitutes love and happiness. They mistake infatuation and "hot sex" for a real relationship, and marry too young or too hastily. Nagging dissatisfaction and the notion that life is passing them by sometimes that leads to divorce. This is part of the price of freedom - freedom to choose who we marry, and freedom to make mistakes. The consequences can be tragic, but it isn't that we don't value family - just that sometimes, the people we choose to include in it might better have remained friends or strangers.

I'm no expert on Eastern vs. Western culture and "family values," just someone who thinks we're all too quick to judge one another and to over-generalize about the people "elsewhere." That doesn't lead to empathy and world peace.

On to you now guys. Do think that there is a misunderstanding from the east of the western's way of valuing the family primarily because of the media? What are the things that we could still do to promote peace and understanding in present world mired with barriers and divisions?

About the Author:
Holly Jahangiri is a professional writer who claims, tongue-in-cheek, to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, Erma Bombeck, and O. Henry. Her books are available through 4RV Publishing at and

For more of Holly's writing, be sure to visit her blog, "Do I Have to Spell It Out?" at
Copyright 2009 Holly Jahangiri.

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Jan said...

The first paragraph struck me as strange. What is Elms talking about? Is he having nightmares?

Scanned the post till I reached the end. Aha! A familiar smiling face!

Holly Kaw!

That's reassuring to know, Holly. Indeed a lot of what we've been seeing in the television constitute what we think of as the American way of life. From our perspective, what strikes us odd is how Americans deal with its elderly and the infirm. It horrifies us. We pat ourselves in the back, knowing we have this history of taking care of our elderly - our much vaunted filial piety.

I'm relieved knowing your perspective on this issue.

As to our filial love - the Asian version of it? Our devotion can only do so much, people. There are instances we'd do our loved ones - the elderly - a big show of our love by giving them access to the competent medical and health personnel. We're not bringing dishonor to ourselves when we do this.

We are just common folks - are we capable to deal with dementia associated with old age?

Can we competently handle our loved ones afflicted with Alzheimer's?

Some cases do really require medical intervention and outside help. Just saying.

Although this is still a far-fetched scenario as we have a practically non-existent health program for our citizens, let alone our elderly.

Thanks, Holly, for this insightful post.

Vivian Zabel said...

Most families in the U.S. are willing to care for their family members, but, as anywhere, there are those who expect older members to manage or be put in a nursing home, either way they are left alone -- no in between.

That "care for our families" or "ignore them" can be found everywhere.

bingkee said...

Americans do value family relationships indeed. However, it's not space that drifts them apart---it's the aggregate of modern advancements that break down cultural and social values that cause them to change priorities. They love each other, they esteem each other but because of external influences their priorities and values change and when they do, they can no longer control what is happening around their families. As I have pointed out in my blog about parenting, children are no longer "children" following their parents' rules. They were fed with the thought that they can express themselves no matter what and can even risk their parents' welfare if they try to discipline their children.
I think the misunderstanding arises from the concept of "unified faith" that transcends and acts as a guide for family life. Because America promotes non=practice of faith and practices of different faith, Americans have developed a tolerance for all that paves the way for libertarianism---that everyone is free to make choices regardless of whom he may hurt because "egoistic principles" reign in America. Combined with egotism, and no unified faith, family relationships take a backseat. Faith is the precedent for all values to be practiced in a family. Without faith, where will the American get or acquire his "ideal concept" of nurturing a family?
This is so sad. As a "foreigner" living here in America, I've seen enough to say that Americans are sometimes so helpless in rearing their families (not economically).
Also I don't think poverty or lack of finances lead to broken marriages. In fact , it bonds and strengthens marriage most oftentimes. I grew up so poor, living in a grasshut, and eating rice and fish as a feast and rice and soy sauce for daily meals. But my parents' marriage were strengthened because they thought they needed to work together as a team and help each other to feed us and survive. Filipinos do not see poverty as a cause of marriage split-up. They see it as God's challenge to make us rely on His provision.
Another note; prostitutes in America are not driven by poverty or trying to help their families in providing money, but American prostitutes are mostly those who ran away from their families, either because of family problems of dysfunctional families. Filipino sex workers are driven to work that kind of job because of lack of education and the desire to help feed their families.

Holly Jahangiri said...

@Jan, so right you are - sometimes, we do a disservice to our loved ones by trying to take care of them when we don't have the skill, time, energy, expertise, or support systems to do it all ourselves. Unfortunately, Vivian is also right in that our healthcare alternatives range from excellent to dismal, and it's not always based on cost alone. Some "skilled nursing facilities" cost more each week than most people make in a month. Without really good insurance, it may not even be an option for some families - but for others, that's a blessing in disguise. Not all of these facilities are as good as they purport to be.

It is a shame that we don't (in some cases CAN'T) provide better care for the elderly members of our families and communities, though it's generally cost and availability of good services that stand in our way - not callous disregard.

@bingkee, I'm sorry you seem to see only the worst of American life. There's some truth in what you say, but some of it is overbroad judgment. I agree that technology can isolate as much as it can connect, and I feel very bad for the elderly when faced with technology they can't readily understand or use. I tried to teach my father in law to use the computer; he was interested, and certainly intelligent enough. What finally defeated him was the mouse - he could not control the cursor's movement on the screen by moving the mouse with his hand. He had had a stroke many years ago, and I think the fine motor skills were impaired. That, and it took a while to understand the paradigm. Technology can be both an enabler and an obstacle to the disabled, as well, but at least it's something we're giving serious consideration to - trying to design products and systems that work for people with disabilities. Some days, the world just moves too fast. I don't know that halting progress would be the best answer, though.

As for parenting in the U.S., you've obliquely referred to one very interesting problem: That is, how do we balance the rights and protection of innocent children with their need for effective discipline? Those who are beaten, abused, and seriously neglected deserve to have someone who will step in to defend them and punish those who hurt them. But we seem to have lost all sense of balance and given far too much raw power to children when a swat on the behind is enough to bring in Child Protective Services. That a six year old could threaten his parents with criminal action just for scolding him, and parents truly believe they could go to jail on the word of a child who is not being abused, but merely being a brat, is horrible. We need some sanity restored, and I'm not sure what the answer is there, either. I can only tell you that when my daughter tried that on for size, I handed her the phone and offered to look up the phone number for CPS. A parent who is running scared of their own child is either doing something wrong, or being an ineffectual parent.

We also need to get off this "everyone is equal, no one's better than anyone else" kick. No one really believes it, and it isn't true. But people aren't "better" than others by virtue of social class, wealth, or education - they're "better" by virtue of what they do with the minds, talents, skills, and opportunities that they are blessed with. Most of us can work harder to be "better" than we are today, and effort as well as results should be recognized, in order to provide an incentive to keep trying.

Regarding "sex workers": Most streetwalkers do this work because it's all they're able to do in order to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Whether they ran away or are helping to feed their families is irrelevant - they have little or nothing and they need to eat. I don't know of many people who work the streets by choice.

In Nevada, there are places where prostitution is legal. There are places where a well educated, attractive woman who enjoys being a call girl can make an attractive income at it. I think we should legalize it - open it up to regular health inspections, insurance, medical care, etc. No one should be forced to earn a living that way to feed themselves or their families, but it shouldn't be criminalized, either. It's the "world's oldest profession" for a reason. Legalizing it would help to reduce violent crime - there wouldn't be much need of pimps.

Regarding religion: You are wrong to think that atheists cannot be moral people. In fact, the atheists I know are reliable, ethical, and kind. Not because they fear God, but because they respect their fellow man and believe this world is the ONLY one we get. Period. There is no heavenly "do-over." I believe in God; nevertheless, some of the biggest hypocrites, liars, and scam artists I know are self-proclaimed "warriors for God" and say they put God and church first and foremost in their lives.

I don't think even the Libertarians would say that "everyone is free to make choices regardless of whom he may hurt because 'egoistic principles' reign in America." Our laws do say that your freedoms stop where they infringe on mine. And with freedom comes responsibility, but I will grant you there are egoists and immature, irresponsible people who do not understand or follow this principle. That is NOT, however, proof that "freedom is bad." I believe that our new President will make volunteerism and community service "cool" again, and I think that's a start in the right direction - it gets people talking, gets them involved with one another and in their communities, and it helps build a stronger society when people work together.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Gee wiz, elmot...I think I just wrote you a second guest post here.

Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks my Holly.


Vivian Zabel said...

Uh, meant to write "That's my Holly."

Ish, foolish fingers.

Holly Jahangiri said...

heheheh...for those of you who don't already know this, Vivian is my very good, long time friend and publisher of Trockle. She's family to me, too - we "adopted" each other years ago.

She knows how hard it is for me to stop writing, once I really get going.

Lucrecio Emerito said...

It is good to know how a real American person views family values. You not only say that you value family. Also, you shared your own personal experience on how you valued family. Your Father-in-Law is lucky to have you as his Daughter-in-Law. It is nice of you to let your reader have a peak in your life regarding family values.

You also gave reasons why some families break up sometimes. And not because of lack of family values. But one, because of the pressure brought about by the family values. And another, by choosing the wrong family to begin with. Both are possible reasons. Another reason is plain selfishness. But you also said that. And you are right that it is not unique in America.

I know some people in the US. Both family and friends. Interaction with them showed me that indeed, they value family. And it is not an unreasonable conclusion. All of us are humans. And affection towards family is universal. Just like a smile looks the same in every part of the world. Yes there are selfish people. But that is not race related but more on personal difference. Some people are just born that way. American or not American.

Now to your "second" post :) (I'm sure Elmot won't mind it. I heard he's a very nice person.)

As to child discipline, there is a difference between discipline and abuse (both physical and verbal). And the law makes a distinction. That means that if you stick to normal discipline, you should be alright. Unfortunately, each state draws its own line as to what is normal. So, I cannot make general statements.

As to sex workers, I know nothing and can't comment. O:-) ::Innocent::

Then on to religion. America was designed by the founding fathers not to have or be dominated by one religion. And there is a clear separation between church and State. (not a capital c. Historically, if capitalized, it normally refers to the R.C. church. If not, like here, it refers to orthodox religions, some unorthodox, but excludes cults.) As Bingkee correctly pointed out, America has no unified faith. I agree with her. But I choose to call it religious tolerance.

I like religious tolerance. In fact, I wish everyone would be more tolerant. We are now having global security problems. Look at global terrorism. These are all because some people cannot tolerate other's religion. They think we do not have the right to exist. Also, plenty of wars were waged and burnings at the stake made in the name of religion. The US founding fathers, being Builders, know this. So, at the start, they incorporated "security measures".

I just hope Elmot will not consider this the third guest post.

Jan said...

@Holly and @Luke: So this is where you reserve your 500+ - word comment. Darn! I must be more creative in my blog to attract this kind of ejaculations so early in the morning.

@Holly: That's quite a surprise to me, too - that you choose to take under your wings your father-in-law. Initially, that is.

I've read a good number of your posts already, including your comments in your blog, in my blog, and now here - and oh boy, it should not come as a surprise at all. You're a very giving person. That's a rare quality online. Who you are as real person has spilled over into your blog and your online persona.

What we see/read is what we got! Nothing is lost in the translation.

Having said that, do I now earn a guest post from you? ",) Granted of course that the little tempest in your personal life has settled down?

Jan said...

@Luke: Fascinating reluctance to talk about sex workers.

@Elmot: And why is it there's no graphic or picture in this post? Just saying. ",)

Other than that? Congrats. Holly has set the bar on guest posting in your blog. Quite high indeed. Now, I'm a little hesitant to broach the subject to you. :(

elmot said...

holly kaw! this is guest post with posts also in it!

@ jan: there is not graphic or picture here on the post coz holly emphasized to me that her article is copyrighted and it would be ironic if there will be a picture with copyrights on a copyrighted article.

indeed, she has set a high bar on guest posting here, and i am very much humbled actually by her quick affirmative response on guest posting; don't worry big bro, i did not bribe nor threatened our dear friend holly to share in here, ehehe LOL!

elmot said...

@luke: you better know nothing about sex workers, for dee is peeping behind your back while commenting here, ehehe LOL!

and actually i am considering your comment as a third guest post already, so better watch our on your inbox, ehehe!

elmot said...

@vivian: thanks for coming over, and holly is just so happy that you are here participating on her guest post. you are always welcome here.

and you surely could affirm now, that with all the comments of holly after her own post, she is really high on writing, :D

elmot said...

@ bingskee: thanks for dropping by. i hope you are ok now. missed you... but don't worry i will not spoil your time to rest and relax, :D

Lucrecio Emerito said...

A 500-word ejaculation? (sounds like rapid fire) Reluctance to talk about sex workers? Hmmm, Could there be a connection? I hesitate to explore my past. ::ROFL::

BTW, I posted that comment this morning. But I started writing it way before. You know naman how long it takes for me to write. I have to check a lot of stuff.

Yeah, nothing. Honest! O:-)

elmot said...

this is my take on holly's sharing.

first, i would like to thank her for letting me twist her arm for this one, ehehe! kidding aside, i am really humbled by her guest posting here on my blog. and now she is a good dear friend, thanks! thanks to jan too! you always never fail to bridge me to the world.

second is that i think the whole concept of the american family is now very difficult to define. for one crucial aspect of knowing what a family is of a certain society is first by knowing its culture and second all the pervading issues that its culture faces that makes it flexible and go with the present realities. america is now a melting pot, so many nationalities are living in the US that molds its citizens, its system, its policies, its directions and actions as a nation and its vision for the future. and each compound of nationality brings with it its inherent unique culture, thus america at present has a complex if not complicated culture unlike many decades back. this fact therefore not only affect the macrolevel but the micro level of the american strata. thus, families are changing, one family is different from that of its neighbor in the same US soil, and one family in the US is far much different from those of other countries.

i think, in the end, what holly wants to share is that there are differences, no one cannot deny... there are also many similarities. there are things in the families of today that are good that are worth keeping and teaching as valuable guide posts to future generations, and there are also stains that are needed to be changed. and it is on looking more at the positive side that we could build bridges that burning more. what we see, hear, sing and watch should not be taken always as gospel truths. each family has its own historicity, its own life-space that defines what it is, and so with nations and culture.

so, i am sounding like a moderator here, ehehe.

regarding prostitutes, i would join luke's bandwagon...don't know anything about it. :D

kudos here! wow!

elmot said...

@luke: and jan's post on commenting with heavy artillery of 500 words is now being tested here, ehehe!

honest? don't worry, dee is not yet around... LOL!
hey, i am also honest, i am joining your camp. :D

bingkee said...

Holly--Do not be sorry for me. Most Americans I know do not seem to see that until somebody gives it out right on their faces. Maybe you're the one who's blinded by what you see and experience here or to put it, because you live here all your life, it seems everything is "right and has become a way of life" for you.
I'd been here for more than 10 years, worked in vvarious jobs, married an American, have American fact , all who agree with my observations. I observe them based on a relative standpoint----our socio-cultural reference. I cannot believe that you refuse to see that.That is not an overboard judgment---I'm sorry to say it's the truth. Truth that is hard to swallow.
I can understand that....when a chinese reporter told the whole world, that the Philippines is a nation of slaves, we were aghast. But in reality, it's true----our nation is producing slaves to other countries. And I think you should reflect on that truth about the USA and not dismiss as an overboard judgment.
If you do not see what I am trying to say, then why are you writing this? Why are you asking people about discrepancies? I am not here to provoke anyone, but to answer your question and state my observations. It's pointless to write something like this when the discussion from others are being shut down as "overboard judgment". Maybe I should have not participated at all since my observations would be shut down anyway.
Why do some Americans refuse to see what others have seen in them?
Like being politically correct---America's obsession with being politically correct. That is disastrous and will cause your downfall. It is actually crumbling down now. Or expunged by Americans themselves.

bingkee said...

Elmot---I am replying to this post because of you--supporting you. But I did not expect that your guest author would shut me down telling that I have overboard judgments. It is quite inane to discuss this with someone who is trying to defend her country, just like us. I am not trying to bash America. I am just stating my observations based on what I see compared to what I had learned and gotten used to in my whole life being a Filipino.
Why does she bother anyway, to write this and posed questions and then if she does not like the answer, she would shut down the answer.
There are really some Americans who are blind and stubborn. Good thing, my husband is not one of them.

bingkee said...

Observations are valid judgments because they are "realities" so they're not overboard. If you did not like my answer Miss Holly, why bother making a post asking this question. You already have your own answers and are biased to only hear out the answers you want to hear.
It's really a shame most Americans refuse to see that reality and that is why America is now on the verge of being chugged out----a great nation admired by everyone in the world , now gradually crumbling to its downfall. All because of the points I had raised. i could go on and on ...but I guess, Miss Holly, the guest author is discriminating to only hear the answers she want to hear/read.
God bless you Miss Holly and have a blessed and wonderful weekend. And if you please answer me back , please don't....let us respect this blog of my friend Elmot. I shall not hear nor read whatever you reply hear because you already shut me down. And now my lips are sealed to whatever you may blah here in reply to this. Coz if I say something again, we will be crowding Elmot's blog with our repartee and inane discussion all because nobody wants to shut up and because one wants to stick to her own answers and opinions because she already has them before posting this post.

Jan said...

Whoa! It's getting hot in here. Iced tea, anyone?

Aren't we glad we're in a democracy? We can agree and disagree to our heart's content. That's admirable. For all the failings of our government, at least we have this freedom to say what we hold dear in our hearts.

I can be profound. I can be shallow. Who cares? I hope you all care that I have the right to be these things and all the many shades in between.

So as long as we agree to disagree and keep it civil we are all good. That's my take on this.

Do you have halo halo in this place, Elms. ",) Now, I'm suddenly hungry at 1:50 in the morning. lol.

Holly Jahangiri said...

bingkee, I'm not "sorry for you" in the sense that I pity you. I'm genuinely sorry that your experiences in the U.S. appear to have been so negative, and have left you sounding so bitter.

You've been here 10 years, married an American? I've been here nearly 50. My husband is a naturalized citizen, not American by birth. I've worked in various jobs, too - who hasn't - ranging from busboy, dishwasher, and waitress to systems engineer, writer, and project manager. I'm not sure that gives either of us qualifications to judge an entire nation of people. That is where prejudice, racism, ethnocentricity, and xenophobia begin - and that is the opposite of what I'm hoping to achieve here.

Do us all a favor and grab the dictionary: the word I used was "overbroad," not "overboard." Before you go "overboard" in your reaction, be sure it's for the right reasons. God forbid we should start WW III in elmot's blog over nothing.

How nice that you have American friends who agree with your assessment of American culture. So, by virtue of your personal experiences and observations, and their willingness to acknowledge your astute judgement, they are the only people who can voice an opinion here? It seems to me that you are attempting to do to me exactly what you accuse me of doing to you.

I never said we don't have problems here; what I said was that our problems are not uniquely "American." I do pity Americans who have bought into this notion that America is so fundamentally flawed that they can only critize it and agree with foreigners that our country is to blame for all the ills in the world. It's too easy - too pat. And it leads to the fatalistic attitude among some Americans that nothing we do will make things better - things we should be working TOGETHER to make better - because, God knows, we're just so fatally flawed that we're going to fall like Rome. I see this attitude encouraged and applauded daily, and it's nonsense. Indeed we should all be willing to accept constructive criticism - as I said, we Americans should be eager to accept advice from others on how to build a worldclass healthcare system that provides for all its citizens, and we should probably look towards cleaning our own houses before telling others how to run theirs. But there's a big difference between constructive criticism and rational, productive acceptance of it - and bigotry.
Why am I writing this, you ask? Because elmot asked me to. It wasn't directed at you, personally; I'm not sure why you decided to turn it into a flamewar. No doubt you have your reasons; I don't presume to know you well enough to understand them.

You write, "Maybe I should have not participated at all since my observations would be shut down anyway." I'm sorry if you felt anyone was trying to "shut down" your observations. You shared yours; I was merely sharing mine. Both are valid; neither is the sum total of "America." I have different observations and experiences, and it seems to me that you are trying to convince everyone that your observations are the only truth, that I see my country with some starry-eyed idealism, in need of my defense, and that I'm either an idiot or insufferably rude. I resent that - and yet not. I just can't muster the energy to care what you think of me - you haven't bothered to get to know me at all, and you've about killed any desire I might have to follow the link to your blog and get to know you.

You see, I have no interest in "political correctness." In fact, I think "tolerance" and "acceptance" are highly overrated, as well - at least when they imply tolerance and acceptance of corruption, immorality, abuse of others, rudeness, cruelty - I believe in freedom, absolutely, but as I said earlier, it comes with great responsibility. If we value freedom, we should defend others' right to it as well. If someone's idea of "freedom" means running roughshod over others, then their freedom needs to be curtailed.

You say that "There are really some Americans who are blind and stubborn." I agree. But if your definition of "blind and stubborn" is "people who disagree with my assessment of their culture," then you are as blind and stubborn, yourself. If you think you've seen it all, know it all, and can pronounce it "suckish" then by all means - go somewhere else. Or work to improve things here. Talk is cheap.

Any time I see the expression "most Americans..." I have to laugh. Good luck getting a majority to agree on two things. One, maybe - two? No. We are a diverse and contentious lot, and it's a wonder we cooperate as well as we do, most of the time. Again, bingkee, I never said your observations were invalid or overboard (though if I read that word one more time, I'm going to hire a boat and THROW it overboard). Neither you nor I can take our limited observations and apply them to the whole nation. It serves no purpose whatsoever. It isn't a question of "right" or "wrong," "valid" or "invalid." Take a lesson from psychology and "criticize the specific behavior, not the person."

I take back what I said earlier about diversity and the impossibility of getting "most Americans" to agree on anything: You lump us all into one big stereotypical bucket, sling in a few insults, and we Americans will get our hackles up.

So, bingkee, what I'd be really interested in hearing from you is (a) what improvements you think need to be made in America; (b) what suggestions you have for making them; and (c) what you and your husband have done, so far, to further change. This is the kind of constructive criticism I'd welcome - we could have a dialogue instead of bickering all over your friend elmot's blog. (I'm not going to bother apologizing, elmot, unless this degenerates into name-calling - which I trust it won't. A little controversy never hurt anyone's blog traffic.) It will be interesting to see whether you can stick to your resolve and not answer me, bingkee. If I were a betting woman, I think I could retire on this one... :)

God bless you, as well, bingkee - and please know that I'm sincere when I say that I am sorry if you felt anything I said was intended to "shut you down." I don't agree with everything you say, but I never suggested that you shut down or shut up.

Holly Jahangiri said...

@Jan, I'd love some iced tea - could I have a nice juicy wedge of lemon or lime, too? I, for one, delight in your ability - and your right - to be profound or shallow, often within the confines of a single sentence. But then, it was your ode to silliness that first attracted me to your blog, and led to friendship. And I can be civil. Not necessarily "tolerant," but I can manage "civil." ;)

@elmot, regarding prostitutes, I hope you're not implying I do know anything... LOL! No, seriously, you see prostitutes on every streetcorner in any major city (this includes major cities outside, as well as inside, the U.S.) I'm not personally acquainted with any prostitutes - well, I take that back, I met a Nevada "sex worker" online during NaNoWriMo one year, and she shared an interesting perspective on the topic. As bingkee said, not all sex workers are in it because they're destitute and need to eat. And I think people should have the right to sell - okay, no, to rent - their bodies, if they choose to do so. Not through force or desperation.

@bingkee, in rereading my replies to you, I think I expressed quite a bit of agreement with what you said. You seem to have been angered by your misreading of the word "overbroad" and kind of missed the rest of what I wrote.

@Lucrecio, thank you for taking the time to read some of my blog, as well as this post. You're right - what you see is the real me. My thoughts on the American family are, just as @bingkee's are, formed through personal observation. I hope it didn't come across as though I were some authority on American culture in general. I can only share my own experiences. It's a big country. In fact, there are communities within Houston I haven't ever been to! Someone across town might have a totally different take on this. And it's okay - I just wish people wouldn't make broad, sweeping judgements on the people of a nation, any nation. Too many of us are quick to do this - be it nationality, race, religion, gender, sexual preference - whatever.

Vivian Zabel said...

Oh, my, Holly and I are very close, but we don't begin to agree about everything. She's more liberal, and I'm more conservative about some things. However, I still "adopted" her as my daughter -- now because I'm perfect or because she it, but perhaps we both realize that we neither one are, face that fact, and work to better ourselves and the world around us.

We agree to disagree when we have different views on things, which we do have.

Holly loves to discuss facts and opinions and viewpoints. She's a definite debater, one who can even switch sides and argue that one, too. She looks at most things objectively to a point, but is a definite opponent to hate, dishonesty, and cruelty.

Lucrecio Emerito said...

@Jan, Yes, democracy is a good thing. I'm so glad it was invented. Sometimes, I read history books where people got burned or beheaded for speaking their minds. I can not count how many times I prayed to thank God that I do not live in those times.

And yes, you have the right to be profound and shallow and "all the many shades in between". Afterall, you are colorful. :D (That's why I find English confusing sometimes. Sometimes shade refers to colors, sometimes it refers to a spirit. Whatever.)

1:50 Am, Jan? Wow, it is great that blogs don't close at 2am, right? As compared to bar hopping, blog hopping rocks!

And about Elmot, he is lucky. This post will be linked in many places. It will also be visited a lot.

@Holly, if you like iced tea, then you will also like the halo-halo Jan mentioned in his comment above. I don't know if you have tried it. But it's way better than iced tea. Jan should have included some pics.

As to coming across as an authority, no ma'am Holly, you didn't. I did not see that in your post, express or implied.

@Elmot, man you are lucky!

@Bingkee, Hi ma'am Bingkee. Thanks for taking part here. I'm new in the blogosphere so you might not heard of me yet. Still, it would be nice if we could also be friends.

I don't have a blog yet. But I keep on blog hopping to gain friends and share ideas with them. I drop by blogs and leave worthless comments. :) Those bloggers must be irritated by now. Some of them are even here. :D (Jan, Elmot, Holly) Well, of course Elmot is here. hehehe. Not making sense agin. Gotta go...

Holly Jahangiri said...

Lucrecio, how could we be irritated with you? I love it when you leave comments on my blog. I don't find them worthless at all. I'll admit, I was a bit confused - you're the only person I know who calls their Blogger profile page "My Website," but what the heck - it works for you. When you get ready to start your blog, let us know. You'll already have subscribers. It's a little bass ackwards, but whatever works...

Lucrecio Emerito said...

Hi, Ma'am Vivian. It's nice to see Holly's publisher, friend and family here. By being here in her guest post, you really must be close.

Vivian Zabel said...

Lucrecio Emerito, yes, Holly and I are close. She can't seem to get rid of me. *laugh*


Holly Jahangiri said...

As if I'd want to, Vivian.

(You see how it is? Publishers stalking us writers... we should all be so lucky, eh?)

Lucrecio, we've been friends for about eight years, now - since before Vivian started 4RV Publishing. Last year, she brought Trockle to life. It was a book I wrote for my son, and let Vivian read, years ago. She said, "Oh, you have to publish this." Then about two - three? - years ago, she said, "Did you ever get that book published?" Of course I hadn't; I am notoriously BAD about not submitting my work to publishers. I think Trockle was just waiting for his Granny Viv to publish him, knowing that no one else would take such excellent care of him.

Lucrecio Emerito said...

@Holly, Hehe. Thanks ma'am Holly. Yeah, the My Website thing's funny. :) Since I don't have one, I linked it back to itself. Call it a recursive link. :D Actually, you're the second person who told me about that. The other one also got confused. hahaha.

Oh, great. No blog yet but potential subscribers already? Cool! :)

And yeah, about Trockle. I hesitated before submitting my first comment on your blog. I told myself "This is a published author.".

@Vivian, That's nice, ma'am. :) You adopted a friend and a book. :D

Holly Jahangiri said...

@Lucrecio - aha! The dreaded "intimidation" factor. (Did you know that this is the word most often used to describe me? I find it strange - and it never works on the people who OUGHT to be intimidated - it only scares off the ones who needn't be.) I guess now you know I don't pull out the red pen and edit comments? I just appreciate them.

Lucrecio Emerito said...

@Holly, No, you don't pull out the red pen. I found that out. :)

Jan said...

@Holly: Unlike Luke I was not intimidated at all that you're a published author. Not me. When I first commented on your post, of course, I saw Trockle prominently displayed at the sidebar.

I thought it was an affiliate thingy. Didn't think you penned it.

By the time you wrote me in SU talking about your book, I was way into deep. I have already left a lot of comments.

So what I'm saying now is that it could have intimidated me too had I known it. My saving grace is that I always go for the jugular so to speak: the posts. I only take notice of the sidebar and the widgets when the blog author is slacking off - no new post to show off. hahaha.

@Vivian: Nice to meet you. And what a way to show support your to your friend and favorite author.

@Luke: Thanks for letting me off easy some nasty verbal entanglements there. What can I say - I'm a genius at 2:00 am. lol

And I thought I was pretty smart when I first clicked a link to your website. Which turned out to be your blogger profile. Darn! Foiled again. hahaha

@Elmot: You owe me, little bro, for keeping watch over your blog at 2:00 am. Especially so that I had to bring my own coffee here.

Holly Jahangiri said...

Jan, you're too funny. You're an excellent writer, yourself. But good for you, being brave and taking the plunge BEFORE checking out all the widgets in my sidebar. I admire that sort of intrepidity. But you had a hint - given that it was your post on the virtues of silliness that drew me in and got me posting on your blog in the first place.

Interesting that you thought Trockle was an "affiliate thingy." He'll be amused. Watch out you don't step on his bumpy little sandpaper tongue when you get into bed tonight.

You've been watching over elmot's blog? thought bingkee and I were going to start a catfight or something? LOL!

@Miss Bingkee: Truce? We're scaring the guys.

Jan said...

@Holly: I'm protective of my little bro Elms. I want his first guest hosting experience to be a success. A catfight is interesting and can propel Elms to prominence, but...That kind of thing can only leave ugly scars all around. You, Bingkee and Elmot.

And you're all my friends.

Thank you for reaching out to Bingkee. I appreciate that very much.

elmot said...

@vivian: and you are really watching her back, eheheh! you are one great publisher at that, spoting an artist and have the prowess of twisting holly's arm for her book to be published. :D

elmot said...

@luke: i really just don'w know if i am really lucky enough, ehehe!

honestly, i contemplated a lot after opening my blog, just staring at it, lost and cannot make my post in mind.

it is a great lie if a newbie blogger like is not after traffic, links and buzz, but i can forego all of these if my friends down here are not not enjoying their time.

others may say that i escaped this post for days, but i just want all to be happy down here speaking up their mind...that is why i tried to disengage for a while.

elmot said...

@holly: actually, i got that feeling too. wow, a published author is the house? but, i think what made at ease with you is that, you never flaunted your credentials to me...just being you.

as you said, you see what you get. and what i have seen so far from you is friendly blog buddy.

elmot said...

@ ate bingks: have an email to you. :D

elmot said...

@ jan: wow, so i owe you a cup of coffee? and you owe me too a plate or sizzling treats at rocky's, ehehe!

thanks for looking over my blog big bro, and i hope it does not mean i owe you more than a cup of coffee eh? ehehe!

and you are right bro, prominence is great for lunch but i will not have the stomach to swallow it if a catfight will be the main sensation here, hehehe! i am more after the welfare of my friends, the way big bro jan is looking after my welfare on so many instances that i could no longer count, ehehe!

halo halo? hehe i am back :D

bingkee said...

Holly , don't pity me....I pity you instead. You have such a shallow understanding of what people perceive of you as Amnericans and as a nation. I DON'T NEED YOUR PITY.
You know what, you should have not posted this if you do not accept comments,observations and opinions as valid.HOLLY, KAWAWA KA NA MAN...AKO ANG NAAWA SA IYO
I don't need your pity because I am doing good in this country of yours. So shut up.

bingkee said...

HOLLY--this is not a place for you to display your arrogance here. If this was your blog, I should have shut up. But you , being too cocky and shooting me down because you don't agree with my comments and observations is somehow immature for you to be a "writer"....Magsulat ka na lang ng iyong sariling diaryo mo para ikaw lang at mga kaibigan mo ang makabasa.. SO SABA DIHA DADAY. AYAW KO SAMUKA KAY BUGO GYUD KA..

bingkee said...

TO HOLLY JAHANGIRI-----YOU ARE THE ONE WHO'S TO BE PITIED ....I PITY YOU . YOU ARE SO BLIND ...YOU ARE SO NARROW....You are now too condescending. First you acted bitchy to me, tryong to shut me up and shooting me you are so shamefully cocky bashing my opinions. Is your opinion the only licit and valid one. Why ask and bother to write this post? You already have your own opinion and you cannot accept others' opinions. As I have told you , my experiences is not to "harrowing nor bad"---IT'S OBSERVATION....that's plain simple English...Based on OBSERVATIONS---Do you know the meaning of observations. Never did I say my experience is bad that you should take pity on me. Can you please use your head or better yet, forehead? My observations are based on experience but I did not say the observations are my experience themselves. Is that hard for you to understand. You are the one who should be pitied ....coz you have a shallow understanding of things. Nakakapagod ka....nakakakulo ka ng dugo.
And you're a WRITER?

Holly Jahangiri said...

bingkee, do you even bother to read what people write before shooting off a reply? I wrote, "I'm not "sorry for you" in the sense that I pity you. I'm genuinely sorry that your experiences in the U.S. appear to have been so negative."

That means "I don't pity you."

Just an aside, though: Since when is pity a bad thing? Do you even know what it means? Here's the definition.No, bingkee - I don't pity you. I'm no Mr. T.

Tainted Female said...

Hello Everyone...

Just a quick few notes for bingkee, if I might...

When I first read this thread and the comments all I thought was, 'Wow! Holly's about to make a new best friend with this pingkee girl'. The reason being, years ago Holly and I formed a strong friendship based on a flame war, similar (and now, I'll note vaguely similar) to this one. Initially, I choose not to comment, but after reading the most recent rants of bingkee's I have to say this...

You my dear, are a misguided, narrow-minded, shallow, racist, horrible person who spits in the hand that feeds her. You have such shallow views of America and American way of life (I have taken a look at your blog), and yet in pure hypocrisy you marry an American and brag about your American family like it's some sort of reward or achievement - almost like you married your husband for his passport.

You will never be blessed with the true friendship like the one Holly offers to all with open hearts and minds, because you have such a low self-esteem you prevent yourself from gaining such; and instead create drama and controversy where none is needed.

The funniest thing is, it wasn't Holly's words that make me perceive you as this. It's your own. How about before you try to fix the world (or America for that matter) you fix yourself and learn how to have a grown up conversation along with the fine art of agreeing to disagree? All the while, love yourself for who you are, and perhaps you'll learn to love others for more than their nationality or perspective.

Much love...


bingkee said...

TAINTED FEMALE----I did not come here to criticize America and Americans. You are so mistaken. I am not racist.....I am married to a white American. And if you read ALL MY POSTS in my will never, never, never conclude that there is a hint of racism there. How could I be racist when I am married to a white American and my best friend is an African -America. Obviously, you did not read my blog.
How shallow of you people----I am just making a comment based on observations living here on Anmerica as opposed to what cultural-framework I have grew up with. She was asking a question on about how Easterners view the West (America), so I stated an opinion because I am East Asian , and I thought my comments were VALID because I had observed and had mingled and interacted with Americans and had observed first-hand all these she discussed.
YOU TAINTED FEMAILE ---has a tainted mind -----your nickname suits you--hyour mind and heart are so tainted you could not even figure out which is apparent and obviously correct. You are so quick to open your mouth even reading my blog posts and all the my first comment.
I PITY YOU ALL ....EVEN YOU ---coz you are so "boba" ----in fact so tainted that your views are darkened by your quick and snappy judgments without basis .
You're so funny---are you Holly's friend?
I create drama and controversy? How I wish I could do that to make me famous in the blogosphere.....but dear Tainted, I am not famous because I don't create drama and controversy. I'm such a tiny minion here in this world and the blogosphere. Look who's talking? You're the one creating drama and controversy by making these "interruptions" and "defenses" when no one provoked you. Tsk...tsk...tsk....wawa ka naman.

hahahaha...your're funny....I have already learned to love others a whole lot since I was a kid....because I grew up with a loving family, and a loving circle of friends and loved ones. Just how filipinos are----loving and caring from babies to old age.
IN CASE YOU DON'T KNOW....I'M MARRIED TO AN AMERICAN-----of mixed Irish /French-Canadian blood. My mother-in-law loves me so much , in fact she gave me a car, my office wardrobe, a closet system and a kitchen make-over, and lots of fabulous gifts. My American brothers-in-law dote on me and I love them so much. My black friends are awesome and my closest buddies at work are a mix of Latinos, white and black people......SO BEFORE YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH, CHECK TO SEE IF WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS RIGHT....GET IT>?

Wawa ka talaga naman-----indeed, you're not using your head and your forehead, even your mind is TAINTED cannot even think straight and say something right and correct.


bingkee said...

TAINTED----You're lost, depressed and tainted.....I should pity you. You're down in the dumps forever???? No wonder you're such an "interruption" here with your unfounded comments and your INACCURATE statements about, racist? me not learning to love people of all races? you read my blog? APPARENTLY, your depression, your being lost and your stains explain your BAD BEHAVIOR AND YOUR QUICK SNIPPY TONGUE....... Luuya nimo uy. Pagpakamatay na lang day kay way ayo ang mga tao na pareha nimo.

Jan said...

Elmot encourages us to be all friends in his blog. Here. Let's drink to that. I don't drink, but I will for the sake of us having all a good time.

Barring that - we can't be friends, we can't be buddies, we can't even countenance the mere sight of each other.

Okay, I get that. This is the real world. Shit happens all the time.

I'm just saying that before this thread gets out of hand - let's all be adults, for crying out loud.

Think and rethink what you'd be posting here. You maybe feeling vindicated and proud of your little accomplishment, but hey, this is for keeps.

This is likely to outlive you. It surely will bite you in the ass now or in the future. Funny, but your genius perorations here might likely bite your loved ones fat asses too.
So beware!

If we can't be friends, okay. Let us be perfect strangers then.

On a final note - I hope - here's a toast to civility, tolerance, common sense and decency.

The ball is now in your hands. Don't drop it, slackers.

Pag di kayo tumigil, hahampasin ko na kayo ng palapa ng niyog, hala. Naiinis na ako ha.

elmot said...

thanks jan for putting things right on the table, expect for the palapa...we could be accused of torture, ehehe.

i am really so disappointed over what haven't here. for god's sake, i never exhumed my blog from the underworld (not being active for some time due to workload and not having my own internet connection) just to sponsor the bickering of people and senseless accusations hurled against one another even more, name-calling and racist comments.

we are all totally free to speak up our minds, it is our divine right. i cherish it and i share that right to everyone here not only for the sole reason that this is a blog for commentaries, but because i know very well and totally respect each and everyone who visit here to be mature people who can listen to the perspectives of others, may agree and disagree without being difficult. but our freedom ends at the tip of our nose.

for god's sake; unlike all of you here maybe who have an internet connection right at the comfort of your homes, i read my blog, create posts and replies to all your comments after work and rent for an internet connection on shops nearby for me to get in touch with all of you, friends and strangers, listen to all your perspectives, learn from you, and nurture my passion for blogging. unlike all of you who can just post comments at your leisure, i am always on the run, shell out cash and just hope that everything is fine with my blog.

i am a very patient and understanding person, jan knows that. he buthered me with comments last time but will attack him by posting here all his divine and outrageous secrets just to get even? no. was i the loser? no? i know myself more than anyone in this world. i am secured of who i am. someone put down my view? i don't care. i will defend it up to my last breath, and say to myself at least i did...but defend myself like a true englishman. for the moment that i succumb to the ways unbecoming, i already lost the battle. and i learned lots of things from that hot comment of big bro jan.

jan pointed it right. we are what we say, and though our bodies are being enjoyed by worms already imprints are still there for the whole world to see, generations and generations from now. that is why, i will not delete any comments here.

these are all who we are. at least at this moment of time.

i invited holly to guest post to foster dialogue, not for friends and total strangers to read racists remarks and name-calling here.

you may hate me for this, but for god's sake, i am not laboring my ass on this blog just to make people stab one another. we argue here day in and day out, but let us all be civil and reasonable.


jan said it well, toast to civility, tolerance, common sense and democracy. i am not wondering why this world has not achieved peace at all, for individuals and groups hit each other, then how much more one country fire against another.

"we will all be judge by our actions".

this post is now closed for comments. and comments on this blog will be already moderated.

elmot said...

now, im having a nosebleed...

ambulance please...paramedic!

let us smile...we will simply look back at all these as a learning experience...right big bro jan? did this realization suck? ahahah~

bukulan kita dyan eh,e eheh!

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