The Amer ican Character
What do Americans believe in2? What is theAmerican character? These questions are hard toanswer, because there are so many Americans andthey believe in so many different things. However,the history of the United States does provide someunderstanding of certain basic characteristics thatmany Americans share .
One of the main reasons why the early settlers came to America was to escape the controlsthey had experienced in Europe. There , small groups of wealthy people prevented themfrom moving into a higher social position or becoming wealthy, and governmentsupportedchurches controlled their religious practices and beliefs. Because these early settlers wanted tobe free from such controls, they brought to America the view that the individual was supremelyimportant. The settlers were against the efforts of the church, the society, and particularly thegovernment, to control their actions. These controls came to be viewed as "un-American" .
This strong American belief in individualism has both positive and negative sides5 . On thepositive side, it has strengthened Americans’inventiveness and their belief in hard work. Onthe negative side, the belief in individualism has sometimes prevented Americans from usingtheir government to solve their common problems. Americans prefer not to have governmentsolutions to social problems.
The belief in individualism is a basic part of the American character. This belief has at least twoseparate parts — idealism and materialism6. Although these two beliefs are quite different,most Americans try to live with them both at the same time, and idealism and materialism areboth very much a part of the American character.
American idealism comes largely from the nation’s Protestant7 religious heritage . EarlyAmericans did not have to belong to any particular church to have this belief. It influenced allAmericans so strongly that idealism came to mean that each individual should possess a highmoral character, and should live by his or her own beliefs. This is what American idealismmeans today.
Americans also have a strong belief in materialism, that is, that each individual should gain asmuch wealth as possible. The American belief in materialism is partly a result of the nation’sgreat material abundance. The early settlers found a continent with great forests, rivers, andfertile farmland in abundance. It is not surprising that many viewed America as the land ofopportunity. 8
As the United States grew and developed, the supply of natural resources seemed endless,and so did the opportunities for personal economic advancement. Each generation had a chanceto become wealthier than their parents had been. Generation after generation of newimmigrants had the same opportunity. Americans eventually developed the belief that it wasalmost a duty to get rich.
Ⅰ. Here a re some new sports words that people often use in daily life . Guess their Chinesemeanings:
Most Valuable Player ( MVP) ———
Rookie of the Year———
X-Games / Extreme Sports———
Rock-climbing / Freeclimbing———
Bicycle Motocross ( BMX) ———
Ⅱ. When is a h ouse n ot just a house ? Guess the meanings of various houses:
Wendy house / dollhouse———
Opera house ———
Full House ———
Meeting House ———
Upper House and Lower House———
Ⅰ. 全明星赛最有价值球员年度最佳新秀极限运动蹦极跳 攀岩自行车越野跑步机有氧运动
Ⅱ. 戏院、儿童游戏室儿童玩具房游乐场宿舍歌剧院茶馆 客满, 座无虚席礼拜堂、教堂上议院与下议院