A thought-provoking perspective of the United States of America.
Last month I wrote a post called “Need Some Help in Understanding the World.” In it I talked about an article by Ezra Klein on the website VOX titled “22 Maps and Charts That Will Surprise You” and suggested you look at number seven.
In case you missed it, that map uses outlines of the states as a way to identify where the eleven “countries” or “nations” would be located in what we consider North American.
This is what the author said:
America is so big that its states are the size of countries
“This map puts the sheer size of the United States into perspective. Montana is about the size of Japan. California is roughly as large as Iraq. Arizona is as large as the Philippines. Though, to be honest, I find this map surprising because some countries are much larger than I’d realized. I wouldn’t have guessed, for instance, that Burma is as large as Texas, or that New Zealand is the size of Colorado.”
Given the fact that so many countries with vast differences of culture and history could fit within the United States, it is interesting to read an article titled “Up in Arms,” by Colin Woodard, who wrote American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.
He points out that the battle lines of today’s debates over gun control, stand-your-own-ground laws and other violence-related issues (as well as other areas of disagreement) were drawn centuries ago by America’s early settlers.
We are told, of course, that we are “one nation.” Yet we live within different geographical areas comprised of like-minded people who came together to form alliances. This has resulted in beliefs and behaviors that support the underlying philosophy of the original settlers. Consequently, we now have to deal with the problem of finding common ground when we have conflicting philosophies toward social issues that go back a long time.
In the article by Woodard there is another map of North America. This one has outlines of the states in the background that are used to help the reader understand where the twelve “nations” of North America are located, grouped by counties rather than states.
Even if you only skim this long article and look at the map of “The American Nations Today,” I think you will have a better understanding of how our differences are reflected in historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established.