Ambition has historically been looked down on in Catholic cultures as an exhibition of “pride.” In my conversations with Mexicans, both here and in Mexico, I never really encountered the “wanting to be American” comment (although I am sure it exists), but instead came across the attitude that it was bad to think that you were “better” than your family and friends by pulling yourself up and beyond your station. This attitude was common in southern Europe (to say nothing of Poland) until quite recently, and has (thankfully) been dying in Brazil as well.
“Ambition has historically been looked down on in Catholic cultures “
NOT the Irish, Polish and Italian ones!
In the New World, at least, these countries were colonized by continental Europeans with strong monarchies and an entrenched class structure to match.
Conjecture: The conquistadors found a way to graft their class structure onto the tribal societies they sujugated, ensuring the perpetuation of the strongly classed society in the colonies (down to the present day) even after it faded in the Old World.
My Irish great grandfather was the oldest of 20 children. He came to the U.S. and worked to bring his other 19 siblings to the States. As a family they did not rest until all of them made it here. His descendants became teachers, lawyers, skilled tradesmen, nurses, wealthy businessmen, and one become a governor of Massachusetts.
All of my cousins have, at minimum, a bachelors degree. Several hold masters degrees, and I have a doctorate. All of us have worked all our adult lives in professions that have increase the health and wealth of our fellow citizens. None ever had problems with the law, and no one has ever been on welfare.
As a Catholic, my great grandfather was ambitious enough.