Americans are uneducated and undereducated. We have little knowledge of history beyond popular culture. We have an even dimmer understanding of all things scientific.
Americans are uninterested in other people's problems. We don't care about the problems of the world. We aren't curious about the world unless it involves a direct threat to our national well-being. Then we will jump all over it, as long as it doesn't take too long.
Americans are short-term thinkers and doers. We aren't good at things that take a long time. The last successful collective effort that lasted any length of time was World War II.
American religion emphasizes the individual and the next life. Mainstream Protestant religions are intensely focused on personal salvation. The problems of this world are to be endured with enough sanctity to move on to the next life. Nothing else matters.
Americans have been spoiled by success. We have had it so good for so long that we have come to think of our way of life as an entitlement rather than something that is a combination of hard work, boldness and luck. We are so afraid of losing what we have that we won't change unless we are forced to do so.
That will do for starters. I'm sure you could come up with your own reasons. But for me the bottom line is that the decline in institutional education and self-education is finally starting to hit home. We simply don't know any better.
This essay first appeared in PlanetRestart.org