Sunday, March 9, 2008

On Being American

From Francis Fukuyama:

Terrence Malick’s 1973 film Badlands portrayed two teenagers (played by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) who go on a shooting spree out West, killing the girl’s father and a series of innocent strangers who happen to get in their way. Remarkably, they maintain a cheerful belief in their own fundamental innocence to the end; even the arresting officers who finally track them down cannot help but feel drawn to them. I always thought that there was something very American about these teenagers, by which I don’t mean that Americans or America are like criminals. But there is something very American in our desire to believe in our own good intentions despite the manifest evidence that we periodically do dumb things that cause enormous damage as we careen through the world.

[emphasis added]
I don't know if that is a distinctly American trait, but it does seem like a perfectly human one to me.

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