What Happened to Discretion?

Adrienne - Pennington, New Jersey
Entered on April 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: morality, respect
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I believe certain American women shouldn’t travel abroad.

I recently travelled with a group of students to Sicily.

I was disgusted and disturbed with the behaviors of young American women after the week I spent with 40 undergraduates from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Hartford.

If you google the term “Ugly American,” you will find the description for my generation when in the U.S. but also abroad; loud, rude, obnoxious, arrogant and thoughtless. My generation exhibits behavior that shows no respect for ourselves or for others. Somewhere through the generations, the feelings of guilt and remorse were lost, so any action is deemed warranted. My generation feels entitled and many are willing to go great lengths to prove just how much they are owed.

How did such a rich nation give birth to poor representatives of our culture? And who gave my peers the right to be the spokespersons for our society? There ought to be a literacy test on manners before letting children out of the house, let alone out of the country.

If you’ve ever travelled abroad you know what I’m talking about. At the discotheques and bars in Taormina, I saw just how low girls my age can fall. What happened to discretion? It was as if they didn’t know the concept. Yelling in the streets, parading around with breasts hanging out and slurring drunken phrases. Since my generation lacks discretion at home, why would they ever think to use it abroad?

In America the drinking age is 21. In Europe, if you can see over the bar, you’ll be served. Yes, there is a difference but it’s not just the age. European culture is imbedded with enjoying alcohol for its taste, not abusing it for its power.

People aren’t learning from previous examples. Women have disappeared while traveling in foreign countries. I hoped girls my age knew this and acted like they cared. It is common sense not to get into cars with strange men or invite them to meet at a hotel. One of my colleagues was even mistaken for a prostitute. If that doesn’t send off red flags, I don’t know what will. It seems like girls my age don’t care about how they come off or the example they set for future generation.

I believe in self respect and not substituting amorality for ethics. I don’t like to be pinpointed as a foreigner exploiting a culture. Like a guest in someone’s home, I am a guest in someone’s country.

Unfortunately, young American women cast a grim shadow on the perceptions of all Americans. When in reality, we aren’t all promiscuous, obnoxious and ignorant. The reason there hasn’t been an end to this downward spiral is because no one learns a lesson. They think it’s acceptable to prance around and play musical beds like they do in their college dorm rooms. The miscreants who travel, portray all Americans like the way they behave, and truly ruin it for everyone.