Many tribes, one country.
For the longest time, my only idea of America was really New York City, where I worked. I had been to the West Coast, to Hawaii and to a few other places, but really when you spend a week on holiday, you hardly get to know a country this big. It’s only when I actually lived in America, that I started understanding the nuisance of different States, accents and beliefs.
Our brain seems to be set up in a way that it wants a clear answer, a clear understanding, a logical explanation and rationalisation of the world in front of you. America defies that logic.
It’s a young country, built on a good vision by its founding fathers, based on the individual and its own pursuit of a path in life.
Like any democracy, there is a line somewhere between the power of the individual, and the power of a central government. In the US, there is a lot more emphasis to empowering the individual – however, like in many other Western countries, the suspicion is spreading among the people that politicians have been using their power to favour large business and globalisation, while ignoring the local working class. The power given to the individual appears more and more as a mirage, unless you have the money to exercise that power.
What the founders probably did not consider, is that if a government leaves individuals completely free, and a nation forgets certain morals that have contributed to its founding, individuality can become selfishness and result in aggressive conflict. I have never seen a more litigious society than the US.
For anything you can do, there will be someone ready to sue you, hoping to get something out of it. I recall what someone told me, when I was living in the US – the best thing that can happen to you in New York, is getting only mildly hit by a car, so you can claim huge insurance payment and be set for life.
That to me is the most perverse logic – we don’t even have it that bad in Italy, where the idea of scamming the system is mainstream culture.
What is more and more clear to me about the US, is that it is sadly a country in decline – buildings and infrastructure are largely dated, bureaucracy has been on the rise, many people live in real poverty and misery, and each government clings to idea of past greatness to project some sense of unity and optimism.
Many US citizens really believe that they are special, incredibly lucky, and that they live in the best country in the world. And you could argue that it’s true, especially if you have a lot of money. And they are often puzzled when they travel abroad, and find out that Europeans are quite happy to stay in Europe, and don’t consider the US such a great place to move to.
A similar perspective has been clear to me in this time of Covid – by reading the news and following people on Twitter. Americans seem to feel largely immune to Covid, as if by being American you somehow have an immunity patent. I have never seen so many people criticising the use of masks like in the US, making even weird associations between wearing a mask and being enslaved by the government. And now that Covid is running wild across the US, very few people still seem to take it seriously, and claim that the large numbers are only due to great and pervasive testing. That will definitely be a factor, and we can’t trust China to tell the truth on numbers, but China managed to turn things around and keep the virus under control pretty much in two months. Now, in July, it has been over four months since the spreading started in the US, and the country is in the worst shape it has ever been.
All that said, the US still provide a lot of opportunity for any hard-working person who is able to ignore the nonsense going on in the culture. It’s a huge single market, things can get done, customer service is excellent, you can get space for a decent price (outside of the main cities of course) and you can live a good life. People are a lot more courageous, friendly and helpful than you generally see in Europe. They are relatively narrow-focused, and mainly care about their business and family, and do the best they can. I may be very wrong, but from where I stand, there would be few things that a government could do, and seriously turn a country like the US around to be unstoppable. And it’s not too late for that. Sometimes I wonder if it is too late for Italy instead, for example. It’s a much tougher way out, that Italy must still face.