A Prison without Handcuffs

Guest Writer

Before I left Argentina to come to the United States to study, I had heard that its society was cruel and selfish. But when I experienced it for myself, I could not believe how sad and disappointed I was to be a part of it. I say “United States,” because it looks like people from the States do not know the difference between America (the whole continent) and the United States (the country).

I see the United States as cruel, individualistic and divided. I am not saying that everything is bad in the U.S., or that the country is terrible. However, I believe that the system manipulates people, and does not allow them to express themselves freely. It seems as though people in the States are like robots because of its institutions. It is hard to see the difference if you don’t live in another country for a while. People from the States need to be aware of how they are being controlled and that their rights are being restricted.

One of the first things that caught my attention is that people in the U.S. never have time to listen others. They are always in a rush because of work, school, shopping, family, etc. They never have time and they are not spontaneous. If you have a problem, it feels like people help you out because they want something in return, or they feel like they must, but not because they feel it in their hearts.

I have travelled in Europe, South America, and in the States, and have had the chance to live in different cultures in my short life, but I have never seen people like those in the U.S. Everything is about the time, but are they really living? They are involved in this way of dying, because they do not see or understand the beauty of life. They do not know how to smile without taking selfies. In the words of Eduardo Galeano, “Someone in the forest said: How weird are the civilized, all of them have watches and but none of them have time.”

Educational institutions are the cause of an ignorant society. It seems as though the goal of American universities is not to make students think, so that they can be more easily controlled. I am sure that there are

some elite universities that are different, however, it is almost impossible to get into them. This situation says a lot about the country.

Education should push students to think outside the box – deadlines, power points, grades, etc. But students do not even care about learning the content; they just study to pass the class or get an “A,” but they don’t feel the real purpose of studying.

In my country, students often meet to talk about politics, global issues, economics, music, and art; we spend hours talking about these things. Here in the states, students gather to drink, smoke and watch football. If I try to talk to them about important issues, they do not have time, they do not know what to say, or they simply do not care.

Education in Argentina is free and everyone has the opportunity to study. However, just a few make it after at least five years of hard study. It is extremely difficult to pass the subjects, and the students have to dedicate their time to study. In the States, it looks like people just come to study to get out of their parent’s house, so they can drink, smoke, and “feel the freedom.” I feel like I am in a high school again, where children do not know what they want to do, or how and what to think. This too is a problem of the system. If institutions keep treating adults like children, nothing will change.


The United States is the capital of capitalism, no doubt about it. The system is designed to keep people constantly involved in buying and consuming. People just cannot stop consuming, working every day like there is no tomorrow, not having time to spend with their kids, not doing their hobbies and basically not living their own life.

Extreme capitalism offers no escape, and this is how I think about the United States. In this system, life is based upon following rules: Go to school/college, work, buy a house and a car and then die. The system depends on ordinary people who do not want to go beyond their regular goals for its survival. This is why I associate institutions and capitalism with prison. At the end of the day, people are so tired of being human that they do not even know who they are, because the system makes them feel that all of them are the same. But they are not. Every human being feels, thinks and acts differently, and that is what makes life amazing – learning from each other, and having the freedom of living and feeling. I believe that people don’t feel enough anymore. The selfishness of the American people scares me, and we cannot forget that so many countries in the world look to the U.S. and follow its trends.


I hope that U.S. citizens will realize how empty their lives will be if they continue on this path, and that they decide to take action to change it. Freedom is lost by always following rules, meeting deadlines, always being in a rush, or even by simply being afraid of being or doing something “wrong.” People in the States need to feel the wonder of what is going to happen. People need to do more public service and the government needs to start governing for the people. The system won’t change until people start speaking out about their basics rights. As Suzy Kassem wrote, “Nothing threatens a corrupt system more than a free mind.”