Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Canadian vs. European Insecurity

Though the Canadians I was working with wanted to be unique from Americans, they did not exhibit the national insecurity that comes from many Europeans. When workign with Europeans I often find that they are eager to point out that their country has invested something or has some social feature that is superior to the U.S. It is not sufficient that that feature be good, in their eyes there is some reason that it must be better than the U.S.

The strangest of these came from a Dutchman. He went into a little speech about why The Netherland’s money was superior to U.S. money. Their bills were printed in different colors and multiple sizes. Working will bills that were all green and all the same size was just inferior in his mind. Though this is certainly an area in which anyone could have a personal opinion, it is no basis upon which to measure the value of an entire country.

In Canada, an interview on television mentioned the color of their money being a distinguisher between the two countries.

In a recent conversation with a professor form Finland, he wanted me to see his Nokia telephone which was produced in Norway and emphasize that it was very advanced, but not yet available in the U.S. He also felt that he was doing research that was leading the world, especially the U.S.

Personally, I do not believe that I engage Europeans with a superior attitude. However, it would be very easy for me not to notice this bias in my speech. I assume that they are reacting to an image of the U.S. that they have built up over many years. Perhaps their media is projecting an arrogant image of the U.S. Certainly in International affairs the US behaves with a great deal of arrogance and disregard or the opinions of the rest of the world.

An American comedian performing in Canada may have said it best. He thanked them for their kindness because it was so rare to find anyone outside of the US that liked America right now.


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