Relationships and Values in the Laissez-Faire Culture

It may seem like I constantly criticize the political and governmental decisions, the rule of law and the democracy that only exists in theory but never in practice in the Middle Eastern countries. However, I need to say that there is one thing which strikes me as completely deviating in the Anglo American way of life. I believe certain characteristics of the society to have substantial effect on people's relationships with each other. I do not favor one or the other, nor believe a certain way should dominate since each has pros and cons respectively in professional and private life. Whenever the Eastern values I grew up with, of family, belonging, pride, honor and loyalty, come into clash with the Western values that I admire, like the rule of law and democracy, I try to find a balance between them. In public and professional life, I usually favor my Western values that I came to learn at the expense of my Eastern values, where in private life I favor what brushed upon me from my parents. Yet, incorporating the two sides in both domains I believe, is the key to success.

However, I came to realize that in the United States, the societal structure is overly individualistic. Especially in certain geographic areas like the Northeast, individualism and self-centered values are to an extent that pushes one towards selfishness and loneliness.

In time I came to realize that you cannot blame people who grow up in a culture which promotes individualism. It is psychologically the way they have grown up, what they were taught by their parents as the characteristic they should possess in order to be strong and more adaptive to life and new or changing circumstances around them. This theme shows up in human relationships as a non-attachment state of mind, but people also do not get attached to places. In everyday language, those people who come from more family-oriented cultures think Americans are not "emotional" and "distant" or "cold" in the way they interact with others -- I think what they mean is that they are rather simply individualistic -- they mind their own business and engage in their own well being first.  In a culture steeped in individualism, it should not be surprising to have the mentality of "You stay out of my way, and I stay out of yours." Even the laws favor individualism. There is no duty to rescue in most American jurisdictions.

In the East -- in cultures like India, Middle East, The Far East and Asia -- people are much more family-oriented. They depend more on their families and on each other. They simply share more about both their emotional states and daily life activities.

The same theme discussion also does surface during the conversation I have with my Latin American friends. South American cultures also rank family values highly (or higher comparatively to be more accurate), pride, honor and friendships are among those things that come up on higher numbers in their "priorities in life" list. Money and financial success are given values way below family and loyalty or honor. This is why, I think this distinction has nothing to do with religion. Despite the linguistic, religious and political differences between the Eastern and Latin American countries, the two cultures seem to get along exceptionally well. 

I believe the answer lies in the laissez-faire culture. Anglo American socio-moral fabric is knit with laissez-faire economics, even the economic decisions and laws promote that kind of individualism and societal structure.