Saturday, October 15, 2011

A European View Of America: "A View of America From Across the Ocean"

"Having lived for extended periods of my life both in the United States and in different countries in Europe, I feel as if I belong somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean -- so maybe I can look at both sides with something that can possibly be called objectivity, or at least a view from the outside.

I love the United States, I love the variety of people, of climates and scenery and of ways of life. I love the openness and immediate friendliness of Americans. I have lived in France longer than in any other country, I still feel somewhat like a foreigner when it comes to their amazingly rich culture, but also their stubbornness in always sticking to their own way of looking at history and the world.

But there was never any real indication as far as I could tell of anti-Americanism in France. The French life style and the American life style are so different that there has to be some kind of a culture shock when the two meet. On the other hand, there is a healthy amount of curiosity about things American in Europe in general, an interest in America, its people and its institutions of learning."

by Siv O'Neall, Lyon, France, written in 2004.

The writer explains how Europeans have a disbelief in the American's "level of acceptance [that] George W. Bush is receiving still today" and why they are so "so utterly blind and deaf to what's really going on". Obviously that does not still apply today, but that was the case during the time the essay was written, and was the "European" view on America then. Impressions and views are hard to change though, and people worldwide are constantly questioning American Politics still. Most of the essay revolves around the writer complaining about American foreign policy and American unawareness. The writer also touches upon the differences between the value of money - "In America you are honored because of the money you possess. It is a virtue to be wealthy". The writer also complains that while Europe is getting more liberal in the sense of equality, America still has it's firm Christianity beliefs which heavily influences the nation's people and their ignorance. The writer also criticises the nation's media - "Why don't Americans realize that they are so obviously being manipulated?"

To sum up the French writer's views on America, it is mostly a criticism of how ignorant the people are about their own country's policies and media. I think it is best summed up in that as a whole they are more concerned for their everyday lives and small towns (or cities) then the rest of the world or their nations policies and propaganda. The small praise they received was for their "immediate friendliness" and "rich culture" (which is a first I've heard that from a European!).

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