Quote Originally Posted by Reiku
On the other hand, while Japan itself is relatively young, it has retained much closer ties to it's past than the US has--the majority of US society has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background, with the exception of certain ethnic groups who retain closer ties to their heritage than to the U.S.'s dubious "culture".

I should also point out that I was referring to the age of a civilization not a particular chunk of land--using anceint greece as an example is pointless for something like this because the anceint greek civilization fell quite some time ago and was later replaced by a new civilization. One could argue that the same thing has happened to Japan, but Nihon stilll retains many cultural aspects both from it's own history and from the much older history of China--while Greece (as well as most other western civilizations) has undergone several complete transformations.
Are you saying that Germans do not feel ties with the ancient Germanic tribes from which they derive ? Or that Italians do not consider themselves as the heirs of the Romans ? Or that modern Greeks regard themselves as completely a different civilization than ancient Greece (but still call the Olympics their invention) ? Well. if you ask them, I sincerely doubt that their reaction will be very different from what Japanese say they feel toward their ancestors.

In the same way, the adjective "Gallic" is still used to refer to something typically "French", from France's ancient name "Gallia" (still used in modern Greek language, btw). "Britain" comes from Latin "Britannia". I don't know in the US, but Latin and Ancient Greek are still taught in I think every (Western ?) European school, and my parents' generation almost all had to learn Latin for about 6 years (if you have ever seen some of the Monty Python's movies, you will understand what I mean).

We use everyday Roman alphabet. English, which comes from the Ancient Anglo-saxon language (outside the Roman empire), has adopted over half of its vocabulary from Latin and Greek. We still quote or learn Greek philosophers (who hasn't heard of Socrates, Plato or Aristotles ?). And we still make movies (not any, but blockbusters) about the Romans (gladiators or various emperors) or Greek legends (Troy, Ulysses, Jason, the Titans, Medusa, Perseus, etc.). The US is a very good example, not just for movies, but architecturally, with neo-classical courts of justice, museums, parliaments, Capitol, White House, etc. Why so much Graeco-Roman influence if it "has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background", as you say ?

Then, just looking at names, which reflect a good deal of the culture (and continuity over the centuries, across language groups, and when civilizations collapse and regenerate), I see that most countries of Latin languages still use Roman names, and almost all of them exist and are commonly used in English too (have a look at this short list).

So I personally do not feel like Westerners have lost touch with their ancient (mostly Graeco-Roman) roots, even in the US. I would even go further and say that these roots are so strong and vivid in everyday life, that people from other completely different cultures like Japan are now aware of quite a bit through Western and mostly American influence (eg. they know Greco-Roman gods, some philosophers or Roman emperors, they can read and write in "romaji", build Graeco-Roman style architecture, etc.).