The Second Version

10/12/07

The American Travellers

Kim and Connie DuToit are back from a trip to Europe - Wien and Germany, actually, and they did enjoy the experience. To the point them Kim stated he'd be quite willing to live Over Here at this point of his life - and this opinion of his got the more Murrican of his readers up in arms. As if that's some sort of betrayal.

I may disagree with Kim and his wife on some issues (what's all the fuss about tattoos, for example), but one thing I greatly appreciate of them is that, while being American through and through, they're not obtuse nationalists. They are willing and ready to concede there is beauty and goodness in other places, and the American lifestyle may not be the absolute best around the world. Connie says:
They are still able to afford to live on a single income--with mothers staying home to greet their children when they come home from school and stay home with their babies until they’re old enough to go to school. They think we’re slaves to the almighty dollar, that we’d trade the value of family for more temporary and disposable possessions. It’s priorities, of course, but calling them slaves? That’s meaningless. It’s just different priorities.
Different priorities indeed. We have more leisure time over here, and that means generally lower income. But can you honestly put a price on the time spent with your family, or friends? Is the "worker bee" life truly the best possible one?

Yes, we're less free than Americans in many and important regards. I noticed that, and on this blog I'm fighting my part of the intellectual struggle for liberty. Is that enough? I don't know; the other day I was very gloomy about the future of Italy. In any case, I've entered the Green Card lottery, and we'll see how it goes. My roots are here, and only a total loss of hope for the future will make me leave.

The point that Kim and Connie are making, I think, is that there is a tradeoff to be reached at some point. It's better to be a well-armed rancher in Texas, or to live without guns (of course these tools figure prominently in any discussion at Kim's place) as a citizen of a beautiful city like Vienna?

My summary is a semplifaction of course. In any case, different people at different times of their lives will reach different conclusions - and it's pretty hard to say which one is best in any absolute sense. That's the curious property of tradeoffs. In any case, I own a handgun; I can't legally carry it out of my place, but eventual intruders are going to get at least a look down the barrel, that I can tell.

Both many Europeans and Americans fail to see things in each other's perspective, and end up looking down upon each other with contempt. I think this is not good; especially now that the West is under attack from the outside and the inside too, a widening chasm between the two branches of western civilization is the worst thing we can have

You can see my thoughts on the matter remain a bit confused. That's because I have a lifetime experience of Europe - Italy most of all - but I've never been to the USA. I know folk who've visited there, and generally liked it. But they were simple tourists, they didn't really live like Americans do. I've been a tourist in Jakarta, Indonesia, and soon I'll go there again - this time as a traveller, living for a while with a middle-class family. Yes, this hasn't much to do with America, but I'll know another reality to compare to the one I grew up in. No knowledge is ever too much.

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