Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Embarassing Ourselves in the Eyes of the World

As a world power we think we can dictate our cultural ideals no matter how alien our culture is to others. Our overly pampered teenagers are frequently given vacations to foreign countries. Instead of acting reserved and being concerned about how others view their behavior they act as if they are putting on a show. Our teenagers are often loud, silly, sexually provocative and become intoxicated while their parents or chaperones look on unconcerned.

The reality is everyone watches an American. Foreigners are fascinated by our actions, dress and lack of manners. When we allow our youngsters to drink because the country they are visiting or cruise ship they are on has no age restrictions, the young teens’ obnoxious drunken actions are a reflection on all Americans.

The ugly American has changed from wealthy, older people to teenage “MTV celebrity wannabees.” We Americans are not demanding courteous and dignified behavior from our children when visiting foreign nations. We act as if “what happens there stays there.” When something tragic happens we do not question our supervision nor the obnoxious behavior of our youth but arrogantly blame the authorities of the foreign nation.

We have punished Aruba for the “Natalie Holloway” debacle. We now know a token four chaperones were given the responsibility of supervising over 100 American high school seniors. Natalie Holloway was allegedly drunk and drugged the night she was last seen with three young Aruba men. There is ample evidence that the partying was voluntary.

There are people in all nations and social classes who will take advantage of a vulnerable person. Predators are waiting in the wings for these young girls. They are merely doing what they do best: prey on others. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep their children’s behavior under control and to let them know that evil is waiting for any person who loses his faculties or is in an altered state.

Natalie’s parents and stepparents, with the help of the media, put the government of the small Caribbean island on trial for several years. America’s power has devastatingly harmed Aruba’s tourism by painting their judicial system as corrupt and incompetent. It may well be although the root of the problem is our cultural naiveté of human behavior. Drunken boys do obnoxious things that often end in brawls. Young “loose” appearing girls are going to be sexually harassed by high testosterone boys and men in any culture.

Too many modern “I want to be your friend” parents have moved so far away from human nature that they believe their personal power can protect their children and control everyone who comes in contact with them. This is delusional.

All of our expended energies after a preventable tragic incident do not bring the person back to life. The ultimate anguish and often guilt is experienced by the parents. Only by acknowledging the real dangers of existence can children live more safely and peacefully with others.

Most foreigners and traditional Americans believe parents and chaperones have the responsibility to demand appropriate and moral behavior from their children. No aware and rational parents can believe they have the power to control the reactions of others to protect their child. Our culture is foolish if we believe we can dictate to others what we want rather than live reasonably within the boundaries of human nature. Ignoring evil does not magically make it disappear.

Bad things happen when youngsters are left to their own devices. We are all at fault if children are not taught this by their parents and culture. No parents should believe they possess world power to change human nature. Attractive teenage “hotties” acting uninhibited places them in a vulnerable and dangerous position. Many males will follow their base instincts and seize the opportunity these girls provide.

Americans are not inherently better or worse than other people from other nations. The majority of Americans who choose morally responsible lifestyles create safe and respectful environments. We must recognize that others live an undisciplined or even criminal life-style. We need to make our children aware that their stupid actions attract dangerous people who can harm them.

Any and all obnoxious or immoral behavior of Americans overseas affects our reputation as a nation more than any presidential actions. We the American people are either good or bad will ambassadors. Our actions out of the country do impact all Americans.

Dr. Maglio is the author of Invasion Within and Essential Parenting. He is a psychotherapist and the owner/director of Wider Horizons School.



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