The Accidental American

Teresa Roberts
4 min readFeb 23, 2024

The Utter Randomness of Life

The end of another day (my photo)

I’m an American quite by accident.

I woke up one morning to discover that I was alive. I was conceived without my consent. I didn’t get to pick my parents or my country. Bang! Here I am and the indoctrination began when I drew my first breath. If all went according to the expectations of my culture, I would mature into a thoroughly good citizen of an accidental nationality.

But what if I had been born in China or Paraguay instead?

How would life be different from my current life? Would I grow up wishing that I lived elsewhere, unable to feel at home in the culture that I inherited at birth? Would the cultural expectations I’d inherited seem strange to me?

Most likely, no.

We are who we are and we’re largely who we are due to our culture. In fact, what seems perfectly normal to me may seem weird to someone from another country. We all go through life thinking that we’re the normal ones though.

But what is normal?

It probably doesn’t exist except at the most basic level. Instincts are most likely universal to all animals. The drive to survive, for example, is an instinct that is normal to find in humans across the world. In that respect, we’re not unlike any other animal that struggles against the odds to live another day.

The instinct to procreate is another rather predictable need. It’s the next level of survival, ensuring that not only will the individual live another day but the species will survive as well. We’ve romanticized sex but in reality, love is viewed differently from culture to culture. We’ve attached meaning to the sex act that is not inherent and then grew up believing the stories we were told. If we were born in another part of the world, our perceptions of sex and love would be quite different. It’s all a social construct.

I drew the American card, however.

I ended up being one of the lucky ones I am told. To live in the greatest country in the modern world is a blessing. Our gods must have smiled upon me. I now have the right religion, government, laws, strategies, rules, and points of view. The way I interpret the world is the truth. In some instances, I’ve even been told that it’s my job to spread the truth to other nations who weren’t so fortunate to be born in America.

Luckily, I haven’t succumbed to such nonsense.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate the tribal mentality to some degree. I understand that society depends upon the ability of the tribe to cooperate in order to provide a better chance of surviving. We are social creatures who thrive on collaboration. Of course, we also struggle to cooperate and collaborate because we have been endowed with the selfish gene which makes it hard to get along. When we do find a way to overcome those natural tendencies, however, we can accomplish some interesting things.

There is a downside to the tribe as well.

One of the most obvious ones is that there isn’t room for diversity. At least not to the extent that people like myself desire. You see, I’ve never wanted to be a card-carrying member of any particular group. I know other people who prefer to fly solo as well. We aren’t a dime a dozen but we’re sprinkled throughout society.

We don’t easily conform.

The tribe can and does often discourage diversity, creativity, new ideas, different perspectives, cutting-edge progress, and individuality. That’s a massive downside. The majority mostly follow as expected, but some simply can’t and don’t. They choose to be different over belonging and live outside the norm. America doesn’t have a monopoly on enforcing such restrictions. It’s a worldwide phenomenon and should be added to the instinctual list most likely.

We do what we do because we are trained from birth to do what we do.

There’s no getting around it. We are often our own worst enemy. To be true to one’s self comes with a price. Many simply cave and comply. I contend that a little piece of the individual dies with each act of compliance and the world loses as well.

Everyone loses.

To ignore your need for authenticity and to compromise because you fear being ostracized is as common as apple pie. Thus, dying with a piece of yourself still intact is an amazing accomplishment.

Oh, that we could raise our children to be who they are without apology.

Yeah, I’m an American, but not by choice. It was a random act of nature that put me here instead of over there. The American definition of who I am guaranteed a division between me and other humans randomly born elsewhere. Our manmade boundaries and cultural constructs keep us separated for our entire lives. We could be so much more if we welcomed diversity but apparently, that’s not an instinctual drive. So, it takes eons of social evolution for us to edge a little closer to a more inclusive world. In the meantime, we lose opportunity after opportunity to grow, adapt, and create a better world.

What a pity!

Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.