You Americans and Your Divorces

I wonder sometimes what it is like to grow up somewhere other than America and what America looks like from these other places. I see it occasionally through other eyes and it seems like too many people see it as a big lump of everything that is wrong.

I get comments sometimes along the lines of “You Americans are so lazy” or “You Americans have no morals.” And I look over my right shoulder. Over my left. Who is this person talking to?

America is a huge place and because it is a young country made up of people with a wide variety of cultures and beliefs, it is enormously varied. Even within the country we can’t agree on what’s American and what’s not.

I deleted a comment recently that said that Indians hate Americans because of our divorces. And again I wondered who he was talking to. I know it couldn’t have been me. I’m not even married yet. I’m certainly not divorced!

I hear a lot of “this is what’s wrong with the world today” or “this is what’s wrong with Americans” and I’m sick of it. What’s wrong with the world today? Entropy. It happens. Also known as The Kali Yuga and no one is exempt from that. We’re all trying to make sense of life.

Our ideas about life and what is right and wrong may morph and change as we experience life. That’s a good thing!

But there is no one American way or American culture. Of course the culture you grew up in is going to effect how you see the world. But here in America we have hundreds, if not thousands, of different cultures. There is no one thing that all Americans are (other than, duh, American), there is no one belief that all Americans hold.

We are not a land full of morally depraved people. We are not a land full of saints. My beliefs about such questions as whether premarital sex is a good idea or whether wives should stay at home or whether guns should be in every home or whether abortion is an acceptable practice or whether marriage equality for same sex couples is right  are radically different from other people I know.  Ask the five people next to me in the office right now and I bet we disagree on at least one of these issues.

Though the world at large, I am told, judges us on TV shows like Baywatch or Sex and the City and think that represents all America and its values and cultures, that is absolutely ridiculous. For all the modern and independent people that we have here, we have just as many women who cover their hair and wear ankle-length skirts. I don’t even know which one of those is “better” or “right.” I really don’t.

Some Americans believe that divorce is sometimes necessary. Others do not. Some Americans might not take marriage seriously. Others take it very deeply to heart (and some get divorces even when marriage is so very important to them and they can’t believe it’s happened to them).

I used to be very against divorce. I was horrified that anyone would break his or her word, let alone a vow as serious as the promises made in a wedding. With some life experience I have come to realize that for some situations, divorce is necessary. And my job is not to judge people who have struggled through such an experience in their lives. My job is to have compassion. Sometimes it is as simple as it was a mistake. I too have made mistakes. It helps no one to judge and look down on people who are rebuilding their lives after a mistake.

I hope that the qualities that America will most be known for are Forgiveness, Hope, Love, and Compassion.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.


    I was going to say that you have nailed it in the first sentence, but then I thought, it was unfair for me to make that statement. And also me being Brit Indian it’s not any different from American.

    The kind of business I’m in, I often bump into people from different places and back ground and once I was talking to a guy from Sierra Leon, and he told me that why are so many American and Europeans so stupid, and I said to him why do you think that, and he said, look at them, they are so privileged, and they have so many opportunity and they waste them. He said that there are people where he comes from, who would kill for what they have, and I believed him. It’s at this moment I found out that it’s what we do which people hate us for, not who we are as people, and that’s what’s wrong with American and most Europeans.

    I also think that these programs you mentioned also paints bad picture of what west is to the rest of the world, who sees us as immoral and bad people, who just waste every resource and destroy everything that they lay their hands on and have no respect for environment and tells others what to do, and interfere with the way of life there. This is what I’ve been told.

    Because you and I are part of these collective institutes, we will have to take the flack for it.

    • Ambaa

      And being privileged and having so many wonderful things and opportunities is something that we should always remember and be aware of! Even though there are some Americans and Brits living in poverty, many are not. And those of us who are not have a responsibility to be grateful for our advantages!

      It’s a shame that we are seen as responsible for the behaviors and choices of our governments. I guess that’s what democracy is. Believe me, if I could find a politician who wouldn’t destroy the environment or enforce one way of life on everyone, I’d vote for them! I haven’t found one yet :(

      • Nicain

        First off we’re a constitutional republic, a democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for dinner.

        I was also unaware that when you work hard and make a life for yourself that somehow makes you privileged. I earned my current advantage by working hard in school, building a career and sacrificing.

        A lot of those who are in poverty did it to themselves because they sacrificed nothing in their lives to improve them. Yet i’m somehow suppose to feel guilty for their short comings?

        Maybe you’re projecting, maybe you were born with a silver spoon and a rich family, but most people aren’t. Assuming everyone who made a life for themselves did so via privilege is a sweeping assumption and screwed up.

        • Ambaa

          I am apparently not explaining myself well, as all I’m trying to say is that I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and aware that not everyone has them.

          Privilege to me comes in the form of being a race that people are not suspicious of. Unlike, for example, Treyvon Martin, I never have to worry that someone is going to call the police, say I’m a suspicious character, follow me, and then shoot me. I try to remember how lucky I am that by my birth I am someone who doesn’t have horrible assumptions made about me on a regular basis.

          I am definitely not saying that people haven’t overcome bad circumstances by very hard work. That’s wonderful and to be applauded for sure. I come from moderately good circumstances and am grateful for those things that such a position has given me even when I’ve not asked for it.

          I’m not putting anyone down here.

  • Kivrin

    I’m sorry to hear people have been speaking to you that way. Bigotry is disgusting, no matter who the “target group” is. It’s disheartening to see people who would be quick to speak out against stereotypes and discrimination in most cases, either look the other way or join in to bash some group (i.e. Americans) because “well, everyone knows they’re stupid”.

    I’m American, my mom is an immigrant and my dad is American. Some of my mom’s relatives will say some nasty stuff about Americans, or women. As a kid I was scared sometimes visiting my mom’s home country, because from my little kid perspective “Uncle Bully is mean to me for no reason!” When I got older I tried to talk to them and explain that the “Americans” they talked about bore no resemblance to any actual people I knew. But it was like talking to a brick wall, from their point of view, why on earth should they listen to anything an American, and a woman, says? Some of my relatives have been to the US on vacation, and will dismiss anything my mother says about her 40-odd years living in the US, because they know how things really are after that one week trip. (They saw some overweight people at Disneyland, so our town hosting a marathon Ridiculous.)

    Sadly, I think this stuff is just part of that cheap feel-good cop-out of human nature: making yourself feel better by putting down others. And for the laziest among us, what easier way to put yourself above a group of people than by stereotyping an entire country, or race, or gender. You don’t have to worry about suddenly waking up part of the other group, so it’s a safe ego boost. I hope the human race can get past this type of thinking.

    From what I’ve read of your blog, you seem to be a thoughtful and respectful person, and deserve to be treated in the same manner by others, so I hope you don’t feel bad over receiving comments like this, or take them personally (although it’s impossible not to be disappointed, I know!) It’s the people who wrote them to you that have to live with what they wrote, I hope they someday realize why it’s wrong.

    • Ambaa

      Yes, ridiculous and hurtful comments come with the territory when you run a blog, so I know to expect it once in a while. And I figure those people are expressing some hurt within themselves and projecting it onto me.

      “Safe ego boost” is a great way to put it.

  • Ambaa

    Of course I don’t mind! :)

  • Ambaa

    Agreed! I think this parallels with my belief that it’s a bad idea to compare ourselves to others and we should measure our success in life by our own happiness!

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      • Ambaa

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  • Dess Crow

    I believe nobody wanted their marriage to end in divorce. It is so easy for other people to judge others. Sometimes divorce is necessary to heal wounds and free people from a lonely and unworkable marriage.

    Air Bed

    • Ambaa

      Agreed. I’m working on a post about this also. I think most people going through divorces are really struggling with something tragically difficult and what they need from others is compassion and kindness, not judgment and lectures.