For those that know me, you know I have a lot of information rumbling through the blank space beneath my hat. The least little thing is likely to start me talking about something that seems so incredibly off subject that right about the time you lose interest (or sometimes well after) I hit on something that smacks right back to the subject at hand that spun me into the original tangent. A had a friend once tell me they wished they could be inside my head for a day. I asked them why, because there are times I don't want to be inside my own head.
All the world is one big connection. The more of this great big giant globe I see the smaller it becomes. But the other thing that happens as I see more of the world is that I see what drives some of the world and definitely get a small glimpse of what drives us crazy Americans.
When I first started working for a government entity I was appalled at the lack of urgency and sense of leaving something undone. In my defense, I had worked for almost a decade at private consulting firms where the rules of capitalism mean that if you don't please your customer he isn't your customer long. My last job before government work was one where I learned the most about this because I spent a lot of time working alongside the President of the company who would ask me on Thursday what the client had demanded we have done by Tuesday. Not next Tuesday mind you, two days prior. I have long said that if it wasn't for the last minute I wouldn't get anything done, but Mark would not do anything unless it was critical mass and probably overdue. So comparing that to either the unspoken attitude of leaving it for tomorrow or the more brazen spoken, "It'll be there tomorrow" was a polar opposite.
Many even told me that I'd get there. My naiveté would wear off. My optimism would run out. But it hasn't. It still bugs me today when I have to deal with people that don't hustle, don't care, and simply don't get worked up over anything whether they need to or not.
Two and a half years later, I have finally realized that the attitude in Europe is one of "it'll be there tomorrow." Problems don't have to be solved today because they weren't made in a day and they won't be fixed in a day. The problem will be there tomorrow and we can nibble off a little more of that problem tomorrow. If we didn't finish it today and it's Saturday, we can do it on Monday because tomorrow is Sunday. The only two things open on Sunday in Germany are the churches and the restaurants and they don't open the latter until the former lets out. People here know that we work to live and we must live now.
Compare this to the United States and its live to work attitude. Fix it now and don't wait. Big or small issue it must be corrected now because there will be a new problem tomorrow. Now, faster, bigger, more efficient, less wasteful. Except of course for the things that are opposite. In those cases it must be slower faster, smaller in a huge way, more efficiently less efficient, and waste nothing in making it more wasteful.
Every time I hear someone say the US can have healthcare like Europe, or welfare like Europe, or like the article I read last week that said ALL it will take for the US to institute universal basic income is to increase our taxes to match Europe it makes me laugh. These people do not understand. They choose to see only a part of the problem, only a part of the solution, and fail to understand that their sprint to the finish attitude will not help them gain an edge on the marathon.
It is quintessential American idealism that we are stubborn and stuck in our ways. We unabashedly will not quit. Everyone should be like us because we're better, except for the things we are not better at. And those should be like someone who does that better, only we don't want to give up what they gave up to get it, because we are American. But wen're young.
Europe can wait until tomorrow because there was a yesterday for so long. I've long said that what is old in the US is still called new in Europe. There is a road in Grafenwoehr called Neue Amberger Strasse. The new road to Amberg. It replaced Alte Amberger Strasse (Old Amberg Street) because it goes through the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The infamous Tower of Tower Barracks is on Alte Amberber Strasse. So they needed a new road that didn't go through the military base when they started building the base--in 1908. Over 100 years and the road is still called New. In a town near me, Vohenstrauss, there is a castle built in the 11th to 12th century which has five towers. In the late 1800s they added a sixth tower to add in some indoor bathroom facilities. In the late 1980s, literally a hundred years later, as a part of repairing and updating the structure they tore down the tower because it was an add on. In Garmisch, the "new" church is 650 years old. It sits on the site of the old church which was there for 650 years.
In America a hundred miles is a short distance and a hundred years a long time. In Germany, a hundred miles is a long distance and a hundred years a short time. An attitude that is reflected in almost everything.
Editorial comment: I've updated quite a lot of things. Check out the new About the Website (added some new bits), and the links at the bottom (or the side) now go to some of my fiction work. Or just leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts on my thoughts. And thanks for reading this far. I cannot make you understand how much I appreciate that.