American and European Values
Currently, the United States and European Union could be considered the most powerful states at the international scene. Their lines of policy significantly influence the whole world, set the economical and cultural pace. Thus, it is important to define differences in their cultures and values, as well as views on the important issues, such as use of military forces, individualism, religion, homosexuality, and international assistance.
One of the most decisive issues affecting entire international community is military strategy. For centuries, it was the key to the success of the countries. Today, the importance if it has decreased, but still should be considered thoroughly. The utilization of military in the United States and Europe is different basically because European governments are military weak and prefer to solve problems through international laws and institutions, while the U.S. has a strong military power and prefers to use it more often. Besides, America believes that it has a mission to spread democracy and liberty throughout the world (Harper, 2013). Europe has already gone through two World Wars breaking out on its territories with huge destructions, and nowadays it prefers to use diplomacy to solve conflicts. Moreover, it is much easier for the United States to deploy troops as it needs only one voice while European Union requires 28 of them. According to Pew Research (2012), around three-quarters of the U.S. citizens support the usage of military force to maintain peace in the world. In turn, European people’s military support is much lower.
European countries today are actively providing assistance to other countries. According to statistics, the majority of its citizens think that their countries should help the others. Although, this amount varies through the countries, the average is more than 50%, while only 39% of the U.S. people agree to assist (Pew Research, 2012). For a long time, the United States has been an isolated country. However, nowadays it provides assistance to the underdeveloped countries by allocating money, food, and medicines. The U.S. spent more than $30 billion on foreign aid in 2013, which was the biggest sum in the world, while European countries provided more than $70 billion (OECD, 2014). Both Europe and the U.S. understand the importance of foreign assistance and actively participate in it.
The values regarding individualism and the role of the state significantly differ between the United States and Europe. The majority of Americans (58%) believe that it is more important for everyone to pursue their life’s goals without state’s interference, and only 35% say that is more important for the country to guarantee that nobody is in need (Pew Research, 2012). European citizens, in turn, want the state to ensure that nobody is in need (more than 60%), and only minor part of them say that freedom of life is the highest value (around 35%) (Pew Research, 2012).
It is possible to compare Americans and Europeans on their ideas of nation’s superiority. Both of them believe that people in their countries are not perfect; however, they think that their culture is better than others (Pew Research, 2012). Despite this fact, nowadays Americans are less likely to say that their culture is superior to other. Through ages, this number has been declining. These views are also different through various age groups. In the U.S., older people still think that their culture is better than others, while younger generations do not think so. For Europe, such age differences are not common; however the beliefs about culture superiority depend on the level of education. More educated Europeans do not consider their culture to be the best one (Pew Research, 2012).
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Religion is the next aspect of comparison of Americans and Europeans. For the U.S. citizens, religion is more important than for Europeans. Half of Americans think that religion takes a weighty part of their lives, and it is necessary to believe in God (Pew Research, 2012). On the contrary, religion plays an important role in the life of around a fourth part of Europeans. In Germany, this amount is 21%, in Britain 17%, in France only 13% (Pew Research, 2012). Americans also believe that it is crucial to be religious in order to be moral and develop high values. Moreover, around 60% of Americans think that the strength of the United States is based on religion (Sloan, 2005). Probably, this is the reason why religion is so important for the politics of the USA. Europeans have opposite views on religion. Half of the people living in Europe responded that they never went to church. There are just two countries in Europe – Italy and Ireland, with a large number of religious people that is almost the same as in the USA (Frejka & Westoff, 2006). The views on religion for both Americans and Europeans are based on many factors, including political views, level of education, age, sex, and marital status.
The acceptance of homosexuality is another point of comparing the USA and Europe. In 2013, new Pew Survey was conducted in order to find out the nations that had positive or negative views on homosexuality. The research showed that Europeans had more positive attitude to the homosexuality and same-sex marriages than Americans. Around 60% of Americans thought that society should accept homosexuality, while in Spain this number was approximately 90%, in Germany – 87%, in France and Britain – more than 70% (Pew Research, 2013). Despite lower percentage of Americans accepting homosexuality, same-sex marriages are already legalized in some states of the country. In turn, nine European countries have already approved those marriages. The research has also showed that there was a connection between the religion and acceptance of homosexuality. For Americans, religion is more central, while Europeans are less religious people. For 50% of Americans religion plays an important role in life, however only each third European considers the same (Pew Research, 2013).
Overall, the U.S. and European values have more differences than similarities. Such components as the utilization of military, individualism and the role of state, the role of religion and acceptance of homosexuality vary, while beliefs about being a superior culture and assistance to other countries are mostly common. Americans rely more on power, appreciate the freedom of life choice and traditional sexual relations, and pay more attention to religion. At the same time, both Europeans and the U.S. citizens recognize the need of foreign assistance and believe that their cultures are superior.