After such a wide reaction to yesterday's post, I thought I should take my American Culture bible off the shelf (American Cultural Patterns: A Cross-cultural Perspective -- listed in the side-bar to your right) and share some thoughts on the Being / Doing divide.
Americans are doers. We believe that we can achieve just about anything if we just "do" enough (which generally means setting goals, making a plan and enacting every step of it with perseverance and dedication). "Doing" is very high up there on our scale of values. People are evaluated by what they do and they are valued for their results. We are unfortunately convinced that this a universal value, whereas, in fact, it is a cultural one. Most cultures also value "doing", but, along a spectrum, not quite so highly. They leave more space for the role of "being". We have a hard time intimately accepting that for people of other cultures, we are not (mainly) what we do, but also (even mainly) who we are. "Who we are" is often something we cannot "do" anything about (from caste systems of various types to being European). This is the base of in-group, out-group systems. We Americans join groups (as an individual) and leave them at will. In other cultures, you often simple "are" part of a group that you cannot join nor leave (even if you really want to and work really hard at it with perseverance and dedication).
Emigrants from all over the world flock to the US and quickly become Americans in every sense, even after only one generation. Becoming European is more difficult. All my long-term expat friends agree, even after 20-30 years here, with Italian families, friends, citizenship and language, we will never be considered Italian.
It's a Being / Doing thing. There is nothing you can Do in order to Be. You just Are or Are Not. Americans, with their individualism and belief in the power of personal will, have a hard time acknowledging this cultural difference. One of the hardest of all!