At a wedding I attended last month on the most southern island of Greece, an American was marrying a Greek woman he met at graduate school. People traveled there from 20 countries. Of the 90 or so guests, all under 30 years of age had visited at least five countries, often for study, work or to visit friends.
After the wedding, held in a small white church on the edge of the water, people gathered for an outdoor dinner on a hilltop. Seven courses, many toasts, dancing and mingling conversations later the last of the guests left for their rooms around four a.m. (I heard). In the following days, at the beach, in cafes, on walks and over a final dinner held on a long table, between the water and a main road in town, guests traded stories that left me feeling optimistic about the future. In talking, they were proud of their “home” countries, yet saw themselves as citizens of the world, in their friendships, their work and where and how they lived. I admit to being somewhat surprised however (and gratified) to learn that the foremost independent U.S. pollster believes that world view is held by a significant number of Americans.
From his 20 years of research, John Zogby concludes that, “We are in the middle of a fundamental reorientation of the American character … away from wanton consumption and toward a new global citizenry in an age of limited resources.” Not everyone agrees with the extent of his optimism, including me.
1. Significant numbers of Americans “are less interested in luxury and extravagance than in comfort, convenience, costs, and the dictates of a growing global consciousness.”
2. There’s an emerging class of Americans “who want less, expect less (so much for job security: 40% of Americans consider their work situation ‘unstable’) and can see insincerity coming a mile away.”
3. “Americans want to live in a world with other people, not in a walled empire surrounded by enemies.”
4. The main impetus for #3 comes from “First Globals,” (current 18- to 29-year-olds). They are “the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history.” More than their elders, they feel more personally connected to the world outside the U.S. For example, “they’re the first color-blind Americans and the first to bring a consistently global perspective to everything from foreign policy to environmental issues to the coffee they buy, the music they listen to and the clothes they wear.”
For quite different yet thoughtful views on how we view ourselves read ….