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Is Culture The Main Culprit Essay

1060 words - 5 pages

When there's a mass shooting in America, who gets blamed? The perp? No: American culture. American gun culture. The NRA. The violence in our movies, et al. There's always plenty of blame to go around, but rarely is it mostly focused on the actual perpetrator. When it is, the talking heads on TV try to find ways to "understand" the shooter's motivations. What's more, even when the gunman is shown to be mentally ill, the conversation comes back to criticizing American culture, the gun culture, and so on. Why is it okay to blame America for American tragedies, but not Korea for Korean tragedies? This certainly is one.

I live in South Korea. I deal with the hypocrisies, the double-standards, ...view middle of the document...

And Koreans have them, too: I'm Jewish, and when Koreans find that out, they usually say, "Oh, you're rich." That, or they say "you must be very smart," or "you're so diligent." When they say one of those latter two, I usually respond with, "That's funny...Americans often think the same thing about Koreans." By and large, right away, they usually understand my point. And speaking of stereotypes: The Korean media is sometimes guilty of stoking (pre-existing) xenophobic feelings in the populace. Don't get me wrong: I live in Seoul, and I love Korea. But it's not paradise.

One of my Korean friends - who is herself a mother - asked me a couple days ago what I, as an American kid, would've done in similar circumstances faced by those kids on the Sewol. I told her pretty much what she expected to hear:

I told her I was the stereotypical American kid, the kind who more often than he should - wisely or not - did the opposite of what his parents wished, even when doing so was called for. I told her that even at a similar age to the Sewol kids, I wasn't one to show much due deference to authority....and that I was hardly the only example of that in American society. And, I said I would've likely had the sense to try to abandon what was clearly a sinking ship...not because I was a genius, but because by that age even *I* - an idiot at that age, by any estimation - had soaked up some common sense and critical thinking ability.

That so many children on the Sewol died isn't *their* fault. And Korean society and culture are hardly deserving of most of the blame: Had the captain and crew been something other than unqualified, selfish cowards, so many hundreds more children from Ansan might've survived what was a preventable tragedy at sea, even with Korean society and culture's complexities and issues. The parents aren't to be blamed for trusting those who were charged with their kids' safety. Still, to suggest that Korean culture, traditional...

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