posted on Jan, 23 2004 @ 08:26 AM
Final Thoughts From A Two Month Trip Around Europe ~ by Shaun Granato
... Stupid American!
This phrase was uttered not by the local peoples of the countries that we visited, but by the stupid American tourists that were there, blurting out
in some strange comical defence mechanism when put in a situation in which they didn't like. Throughout this two-month trip I tried to understand why
many Americans that travel abroad think this way.
One of the most amazing things about travelling around Europe is the concept of "intelligence until proven stupid". Let me explain. In America, the
media, many corporations, and our government cater to the people as if we are a bunch of morons. You can see this in many aspects of life, just watch
the evening news or any of the many talk shows during the day to see. There are countless organizations, with our government being the largest, making
laws, doing studies, and reporting results that all have an overlying tone telling us what's good for us. From the Surgeon General telling us what to
eat and drink to the cheesy financial analysts on CNN telling us what to invest in, there are so many people telling the "masses" what's best for
them. There are so many people to help you out, especially in the security realm since Sept 11th.
You can't walk three feet in the airport without running into an employee to direct you where to go, usually yelling at the top of her lungs. You
can't turn on the TV or the radio without listening to some boob tell you what's good for you, what you should and should not do, what you should
and should not say. We have become a society of ignoramuses because many of us just sit there and nod heads to this constant drabble of people telling
us what to do.
This has been exacerbated by the constant fear instilled by the media and our government of impending doom due to the next inevitable but completely
unknown terrorist attack (probability: 100%). In America we are "stupid until proven intelligent" - evidence in our recent history of inverting the
age-old concept of "innocent until proven guilty". In Europe this is just the opposite.
In Europe, it is assumed first that you know what life is about, how to get around on your own, how to think for yourself, what your ailments are and
what to do to help yourself. If you know yourself well and are intelligent enough to do what you have to do, you can find anything you need without
the aid of agencies, support groups, consultants, or approval from a middleman. Not to say that there aren't laws and governing bodies, in fact there
are many, but they do not try to solve every tiny problem that should be handled by society and local communities - this is the main reason why cities
and towns in Europe are all so different and hold an identity that stretches back thousands of years. It's refreshing to experience a part of the
civilized world that doesn't always cater to the masses and certainly doesn't think for you if you can't figure something out. If you don't have
the means or desire to communicate in some way to help yourself, then you will be left in the dust.
I am certainly not bashing America, after all, we've only have a little over 300 years to figure out how to govern a large country that has grown
faster than any other in such a short period of time. The many countries in Europe have had millenniums of growth and change with multiple wars,
Empires, changing borders, defection, different governance models - you name it.
I learned a great deal on this trip, from societal and economic history of the world to where the first McDonalds was opened in Italy (Rome by the
way). It was amazing to have the time and opportunity to explore a piece of the world in which everything "human" that we have in America originated
(except for the existing Indian culture). It has made me understand why we are still considered the "New World". We are young as a collective
society of people, dwarfed by the history and experience of the likes of European and Asian cultures.
So, as an American traveller, learning by seeing other parts of the world is an eye-opener only if you allow your eyes to be opened. The next time you
visit a foreign land try to communicate with someone that does not speak your language. Visit a historical site not just because its there, but
because you want to understand why it's there. Look for perspective, not just for the perfect picture.
When someone from Ireland working at a bar in Spain tells you that most Americans are stupid, don't agree. If you hear another American tourist
yelling "stupid Americans across a public square or in a Gelato store, stop them and let them know what they are saying. Travel the world and relate
the things you see back to what you know in attempts to understand yourself and the world around you. If more Americans can do this then we will all
be better equipped to move our country and humanity forward. I tried to do this on this trip and yet I know I still have a long way to go and much to
learn. However, I can now say that after conquering a good portion of Europe by foot in my own glory and gaining more perspective on the world in
which I live.... I.... am not a stupid American!
(This article was taken off an online magainze I subscribe to, it was not written by myself, I thought it would be an interesting read for you all,
hope you enjoyed)