a reply to: toysforadults
Amen to this guy. What he says brings back memories from the time I went to the US.
I am Dutch as you may know. The Dutch somewhat shifted towards the typical neo-liberal American way of (not) doing things too, but all in all Dutch
society seems to be quite robust and still tends to rate others according to their contribution
to society. And we're not talking "trickling
down" here - Dutch will judge you on your contribution on a smaller, more personal scale. I believe that's because we are a nation that mostly lies
below the surface of the sea, and if we had not been a cooperative, egalitarian society in which the OTHERS are more important than you, we would long
have all drowned
In my country, if you are the CEO of some company, you are not really respected for that. If you drive around in a posh car, you're seen as a thief of
other folks money. "Doe gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg" is our national motto: "just act normal, it's good enough that way". But we highly respect
volunteers, especially those that take care of poor people, sick people, older people or animals. Voluntary firebrigade. Football coaches. Folks that
voluntarily run the canteen. Stuff like that. Each year our monarch knights hundreds of such people - not the rich businessmen, but seemingly
insignificant volunteers! Seemingly
insignificant until you read that such a volunteer, for example, took care of a public libray for 40 years,
or was a voluntary nurse for decades or founded and led a foundation that raises funds to cure diseases. And of course without being payed for it.
Actually, many volunteers pay for the privilege. The Dutch tend to have high respect for such individual sacrifices to society - and so we have a lot
Now, as I said, I've been to America too. I immediately picked up the "wrong" atmosphere. I could not really define it, as it looked all so familair
and normal. Okay, the cars were a bit bigger as were most of the folks living there. But hey, they seemed people like me and so I reached out and
tried to connect to them. No connection. The only connection I had, during my stay there, was when one night I went for a walk and ended up in some
poor suburb. There was a black man that sat on a porch, and when he saw me walking by he expressed some worries about my personal safety and invited
me over for a glass of (pink!) lemonade. Which I accepted. We had a long, friendly talk, and we really felt a connection. He had been in Germany
(stationed in the US Army) and perhaps that's why he invited me, perhaps he was "infected" with our social behaviour, dunno.
But all the other Americans I met, both business partners and in public, were friendy and polite, but kept their distance. Indeed, when they ask you
"how do you do" they don't want you to say how you do. And if you give them the information they required ("well, actually not that good, I feel a bit
lonely here, nobody seems to care about other folks here, it is just me,?") they make it very clear they don't care. They start looking at their
watches, stare out of the window, uninterested. Next time they ask you, you also turn on your plastic face and do as they do: "fine, and you?"..
So, as the gentleman in te video points out - Americans and me were not breaking the ice. And amongst all these fine Americans, friendly, polite,
that live in a nice warm State, surrounded by mostly wealthy people - I felt cold and lonely.
I actually connnected to some other people there, but they invariably were non-Americans. We had to eat and so we decided to visit various
restaurants. There were a lot of restaurants there, most of them served seafood, and some of them were run by foreigners. Actually, for years
thereafter I exchanged Xmas cards with one of the owners of a seafood restaurant. They actually weren't American - they were from Thailand. They were
very happy to seen a bunch of Dutch guys that both appreciated their food and "acted like normal people". With us they could have "a normal
conversation", and we did not look down on them. According to the owner of the restaurant, most Americans did (or at least he had that impression).
In short, we simply treated them as if they were Dutch and it was appreciated :-).
Similarly, we visited an Italian restaurant. It was quite famous in the area, and eating there was really seen as a special treat. Not to us, though:
Dutch frequently visit Italian restaurants, in my country they are very common (and fairly inexpensive). There was an old man serving us and he
proved to be the founder of the restaurant. He had come over to America in the 1950's and still spoke English with a solid Italian accent. Most of our
party had been in Italy, some even spoke a bit Italian, and we know the Italian kitchen well, so we did not order pizza (which is seen as fast food in
my country). This old man appreciated our appreciation of Italian cooking, he strongly connected with our party, jokes were exchanged, and after
asking his advice about what to eat, very good food Italian was served indeed. Then something happened, which made a very deep impression on me: I
routinely did what I often do when I have finished my meal, I ordered an espresso and Sambuca. The old owner of the restaurant bent over to me,
grabbed my arm, tears in his eyes. Nobody had ever ordered that in his restaurant he said - and that he saw it as a token of my respect to his native
country. Man, I was simply ordering desert... that was one lonely Italian..
I saw his pain - a civilised Italian that lives between savages, that insist on putting tomato ketchup on his pasta and order a milkshake or icecream
for dessert - and he saw that I understood. The Americans in our company were clearly not at ease and became loud and quite obnoxious. Not sure why,
they seemed to be nice people when we invited them.
When I returned to the Netherlands, I actually broke down and cried a lot. The wife did not understand why, and actually, I did not either. What was
it that had upset me so much? Later on I realised what it was: it was the realisation that the US may look similar to the EU, and I had treated the
Americans as if they were Dutchmen, reaching out, expecting connection. But it is actually a very, very different culture. The shallowness, the stupid
money driven society, the idea that you as an individual can make or break your future - all hogwash to a Dutchman. Actually, you're nothing without
the others, and Europeans know this and live accordingly. I think that's all there is to it.
edit on 10-11-2017 by ForteanOrg because:
he made spelling errors. And wrote 'see-food'. Now, you can see the seafood, but that does not make it see-food. Must be the emotions..