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Quentin Nokov
08-29-2018, 10:16 PM
I'm thinking of writing a novel exploring the different perspectives of the American mentality. My novel idea centers around a German man coming to America. He works at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a German Language Professor. Long story short, he gets involved with an American woman who is tutors his children. The two characters are suppose to come from different backgrounds, with different schools of thoughts and are essentially opposites. I want to explore the different trains of thoughts held by Americans as well as the foreign perception of Americans. What they think is wrong and how it could or should be fixed.

The novel isn't about saying who is right or wrong, but exploring the different mentalities of people and how what works for one country doesn't necessarily work for another and exploring the historical aspects of the countries that lend the people to think the way they do.

When I look at a lot of the varying culture in America such as the gun culture and the very religious attitude held, I think a lot of it goes back to Puritanism. And regardless of whether Puritanism is right or wrong, I think it left a mark on my country and has influenced the way a lot of us think.


So my question is, how do you view America, whether as an American or as a foreigner? Where do you think, historically, Americans get their mentality on things such as guns; religion, patriotism? As a foreigner, the strange things you see us do, why are they strange to you? How has your home country's history altered your own perspective of the world?

All views are welcome, again this isn't about who's perspective is right and who's is wrong, it's just about understanding where these mentalities come from. So BE NICE! It's okay if we disagree; it's okay if our perspectives don't always make sense to one another. I just want to know how you think, whether those ideals come from an American conservative background or a liberal background. Doesn't matter if your perspective of America comes from a Canadian background, a German background, or English background. It doesn't matter to me if your perspective is influenced by the religion you practice or the lack of religion.

Thanks in advance to those who take the time to comment.

Dennis E. Taylor
08-29-2018, 10:45 PM
Personally, I think some of what makes an American is due to a two-party political system. If you think about it in purely operational terms, in a two-party system, the opponents will tend to move to the ends of the spectrum in order to differentiate themselves. Granted, it doesn't always happen that way, but logically the tendency does exist.

In a three (or more) party system, if the leftmost and rightmost parties move too far to their end, some supporters will bail in favour of the middle party. In Canada, the Liberals (middle party) have been in power far more than the Progressive Conservatives (right) or NDP (left). Of course, the parties can move as a unit to the right or the left, which might over time affect the overall attitude of the voters; but it's just as likely that voters will abandon each party as it leaves their comfort zone. The main point, though, is that moving to an extreme end is self-defeating, so parties tend to stay more in the moderate range.

Of course, in more than three-party systems, things get more complicated as you can get coalitions, minority governments, and a tendency to overall sameness with parties differentiated by only one signature hot-button stance.

Ari Meermans
08-29-2018, 11:10 PM
If by Americans we're meaning strictly U.S. citizens—and I do tend to make the distinction between each of the Americas—I think the following:


The religious fervor and leanings can indeed be traced back to Puritanism; however, Americans still like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists (which I find laughable), and that means often that religious fervor applies to the behavior of others more so than to the individual holding that view.
Also, because of this view of rugged individualism, Americans cling to individual rights despite any deleterious effect on others; ex. the First and Second Amendments, which is about as far as most go.
The national mindset leans heavily toward American Exceptionalism despite all evidence to the contrary.


My own personal view runs along with Friedrich Nietzsche's: "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule." (But, then, that's pretty much my view of humankind in general. just sayin')

Quentin Nokov
08-30-2018, 01:13 AM
The religious fervor and leanings can indeed be traced back to Puritanism; however, Americans still like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists (which I find laughable), and that means often that religious fervor applies to the behavior of others more so than to the individual holding that view.
Also, because of this view of rugged individualism, Americans cling to individual rights despite any deleterious effect on others; ex. the First and Second Amendments, which is about as far as most go.
The national mindset leans heavily toward American Exceptionalism despite all evidence to the contrary.


Would you say that the rugged individualism might lead to a certain selfish attitude? The idea that it's about me and my independence, to the point that it compromises on other peoples' (races, ethnicities, countries) freedom?

And yeah I mean strictly U.S. citizens by the term 'Americans'. I see the term Americans as both innocent and insulting. We're the United States of America, so we simply call ourselves 'Americans' and not United Statesmen or US Citizens. It always what we called ourselves so most think nothing of it. But everyone on this side of the globe is American. Whether it's North, South, or Central, we're all part of the American continents, so we ARE all Americans, by that definition alone. Do you think just calling ourselves Americans and everyone else is Canadian, Mexican, Brazilian etc. is an example of the exceptional attitude?


Also would you say the American Exceptionalism has existed since Puritan days when they felt that coming to North America was like coming into the promised land and a repeat of the conquering of Canaan? Or would you say that it's maybe waxed and waned and has only recently been exacerbated by the winning of both world wars and becoming the current world power and world reserve currency?

cornflake
08-30-2018, 01:18 AM
I don't think American mentality is a thing. I don't and never have been around any kind of gun or religious culture in America. I don't really know people who hold those views, though I know mostly Americans. The idea that 'American culture is about country music, red white & blue, guns, god & country, Republican values, xenophobia, etc., is misguided. There are certainly people who hold those views, who embrace that kind of culture. There are people who embrace the entirely opposite, and they're not few in number.

benbenberi
08-30-2018, 01:25 AM
There's a huge amount of material thats been written on the subject of cross-cultural perceptions and interpretations -- have you looked at it yet? There's a lot written specifically for people who are coming to the US from different places abroad for business, education, tourism, or immigration in order to set their expectations appropriately and help them adjust and avoid social mistakes and misunderstandings. A lot has also been written for Americans going into various other countries too. I think you might benefit from doing research in that literature first and coming back with specific questions to explore, rather than just broadly soliciting generalizations and personal rants on a forum like this.

Siri Kirpal
08-30-2018, 02:14 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I live on the West Coast where Puritanical religion isn't much of an item. And the gun culture people I know (and I know a lot of them) tend to be Society for Creative Anachronisms for the Wild West set.

Okay, now, things a German would have problems with:

The main issue I've noticed is the lack of overt respect that goes with the English language. We have no respectful "you" and informal "thee." A German I met was shocked at the informal way employees spoke to their employers, and he credited it to this difference between our languages.

A man from Ghana once told me that he didn't consider NYC to be a very diverse place, because everyone speaks English, whereas there isn't any one language that people in Ghana all speak. For a German, that would suggest a lack of education on the part of Americans, because your German is going to speak at least two languages and probably three or four.

Those are what I can think of off the top of my head.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

porlock
08-30-2018, 02:47 AM
To answer your basic question, a lot of our (U.S.A.) attitudes and mentalities were formed, since most of us came from there, on the fighting fields, farms and urban landscapes of Europe. A pioneer spirit was formed in this new land, leading to building (and fighting) our way across the continent, creating farms, factories and urban landscapes.
It was many things that made “us.” Much was formed in part by later immigrants. Our religious background, for example, (especially in the South) came not so much from Puritans but from small family churches founded by Scots and Irish immigrants that formed the basis for a lot of the pioneer spirit. A lot of them formed the backbone of the American Revolution. This in turn often led to an “us vs them” tribal mentality that still shows itself today.

My "mentality" (so to speak) is different from my elder brothers and father. For example, they were surprised by the friends I've made with Blacks and Hispanics (although in my case I wasn't ostracized for it). I was able to look at my past growing up in Texas and realized that my ancestors were just plain wrong about a lot of things. Education and experience has taught me a lot about myself, my culture.

We seem to think in stereotypes. I've always been bothered by statements like "all (blank) are (blank)" which is a fallacy that seems to permeate our culture to the point that a lot of people on both sides of the political spectrum think that way. But do we have a national “mentality?” Nationally, probably not, although different areas may have varying attitudes (red state/blue state). Here in Texas, urban areas tend blue while out there in the country it’s red.

I've never owned a gun, and while I grew up in church and still believe, there are a lot of things I question about religion. A typical Texan I'm not. However, as a student of history I can see how a lot of people are the way they are. Americans have distrusted government even before the revolution, and I can see how guns became part of our culture. Here in Texas, guns are looked on as a necessary tool, especially out in the country. However, it has gotten way out of hand in many parts of the country for many reasons. It's ironic that the spirit of individualism has seemingly resulted in a lot of people being the same and having the same mentality (however, everyone is not that way as I’ve already mentioned).

Essentially, I see America (and it's so easy to use that term even though it covers both north and south hemispheres) as having both good and bad qualities. I suppose I'm a liberal that came from a conservative background, but I see positive and negative on both sides and don’t like to make erroneous assumptions based on insufficient data. Remember also that we’ve only had a few hundred years to build our culture and Europe, Asia and Africa have had thousands – which probably fuels our “exceptionalism” attitude. We’re young, new, and there’s nothing we can’t do. Sounds like a teenager to me.

Is education gradually changing people's attitudes and mentality? I think so, but unless we stop yelling at each other and learn to work together it may not help (at least in the short run).

Sorry if I got on my soapbox. Your idea is a good one, we need to realize the good and bad about ourselves and why we are what we are. Any questions I'll be glad to answer.

Ari Meermans
08-30-2018, 02:49 AM
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Would you say that the rugged individualism might lead to a certain selfish attitude? The idea that it's about me and my independence, to the point that it compromises on other peoples' (races, ethnicities, countries) freedom? Yes, I do. One thing you'll have noticed by now is that there is a lot of regional influence on answers. I think this is justifiable to a great extent. I'm from the rural South where what I've mentioned is much in evidence; but also because of the global nature of my work life and frequent overseas travel I was exposed to more worldviews of Americans. Seldom could I disagree.


And yeah I mean strictly U.S. citizens by the term 'Americans'. I see the term Americans as both innocent and insulting. We're the United States of America, so we simply call ourselves 'Americans' and not United Statesmen or US Citizens. It always what we called ourselves so most think nothing of it. But everyone on this side of the globe is American. Whether it's North, South, or Central, we're all part of the American continents, so we ARE all Americans, by that definition alone. Do you think just calling ourselves Americans and everyone else is Canadian, Mexican, Brazilian etc. is an example of the exceptional attitude? Again, yes. And it's only my personal opinion that there's a great deal of hubris involved in designating only the U.S. as America and making sure to distinguish other parts of the Americas separately and less-than.



Also would you say the American Exceptionalism has existed since Puritan days when they felt that coming to North America was like coming into the promised land and a repeat of the conquering of Canaan? Or would you say that it's maybe waxed and waned and has only recently been exacerbated by the winning of both world wars and becoming the current world power and world reserve currency? Ah, that one's not so easy; I've only been here for the last 68 years, after all. I think it has waxed and waned but has certainly built from WWII on. I also think the bill has come due on that thinking.

Quentin Nokov
08-30-2018, 05:39 PM
Thank you everyone for all your wonderful answers! I had read through the "American" stereotypes perceived by foreigners and, while I knew 300 million people can't all fall into a blanket generalization, it's interesting to me how we've gained these various stereotypes.

One thing I'm wondering is where and how did "Americans" (in a very generalized and stereotypical way) develop their patriotic values? I've been seeing a lot of posts in my Facebook feed about people being upset that schools aren't making the Pledge of Allegiance mandatory. I myself am not really keen on reciting a pledge (to the flag, no less) because
I think patriotism/allegiance should be shown through actions, through humanitarian causes, through supporting our people, by protecting the environment, not by mere words. But whether someone wants to take the pledge or not isn't my nit-pick, people can do whatever they feel comfortable or right doing. My question is WHERE did such nationalistic and patriot thinking come from? Nothing wrong with being patriotic, but no other country seems to be as obsessed with their flag or national colors as stereotypical America is. (And I saw stereotypical, because not everyone is obsessed.) Compared to during the Revolutionary War, it almost seems as though the definition of patriotism has shifted from something deep and meaningful to something a little more superficial in recent decades. The pledge was originally intended to inspire patriotism and was always optional, yet somehow over the years it shifted as though it was a mandatory recital and thus it seemed like forced patriotism (at least back when I was in elementary school in NY) Maybe it's just me? Did the "American" victory in WW2 perhaps have anything to do with patriotic pride?

autumnleaf
08-30-2018, 06:10 PM
As an Irish person who has travelled to the USA several times (mostly to the North-East), here are a few things I found different:
- Tipping is much more required in the USA than in Europe.
- Some Americans say "I'm Irish" or "I'm Italian" even though they've never been to Ireland or Italy. I realise they're talking about ancestry rather than nationality, but you wouldn't do that here (you might say "I have Italian grandparents", but not "I'm Italian" unless you actually grew up in Italy).
- Sharing personal details. An American might tell you about his cheating ex-wife or alcoholic parent the first time he meets you. You'd have to know an Irish person for years before they'd trust you with that level of intimacy.
- Non-metric measurements (recipes with "cups" puzzled me for a long time).
- "Old" buildings that have existed for less than a century.
- Gun culture. Gun ownership is very tightly controlled here, and I don't know anyone who feels strongly about changing it.
- "Patriotism" in Ireland can be a complicated thing, given that within living memory people were being killed in its name. Flags are only for state occasions and sporting events; it seems strange to see them on people's lawns or in public parks.
- Religion in most of Europe is just a personal and/or cultural matter. Ireland is perhaps a little closer to the USA in the importance of religion in everyday life, but it is rapidly becoming less so. No politician would ever use their religious belief as an election issue (it would backfire badly if they did).

In relation to German people, many of those I've met are direct to the point of bluntness, which can take some getting used to. For historical reasons, "patriotism" can also be a complicated thing for Germans.

porlock
08-30-2018, 06:32 PM
For America, yes WW11 had a lot to do with the rise in patriotism. During the war, we were bombarded by propaganda; after the war, enemies became friends and friends became enemies. We substituted Germany and Japan for communism and as time progressed we added Islam and others. Social change, which had been slow, shot up like a rocket. Assumptions and long held beliefs were trashed, people looked for comfort and reassurance anywhere they could. Fueled by massive advances in technology and communication, many reeled against the shock of such rapid changes and patriotism was one of the things people could hold on to - something many saw as positive and unchanging.

I was born in 1944. My brothers fought in Europe and didn't always adjust well to the changes after they returned - but they managed, and gradually accepted this new world. Education was paramount, my brothers and I, including my sister, either went to college or graduated. Early on, my teacher mother taught me to read and I read everything. Not everyone had my experiences and opportunities, I know.

benbenberi
08-30-2018, 06:53 PM
Hyper-patriotism and an emphasis on patriotism-as-performance were both features of US culture before WWII -- they were both seen in the decades before, and I think show up at the time of the Spanish American War. They're an obvious focus for people during wartime, especially during wars that are being heavily promoted, and took hold in a culture that was going through massive, wrenching changes -- large-scale immigration, large-scale migration from rural communities into surging industrial cities, political and social upheavals associated with industrialization, economic growth & disruption, uprooted people looking to find and build a new community...

Many of the cultural, social, political, economic issues we are dealing with today are essentially the same our ancestors were dealing with 100+ years ago.

People turned to the flag and other patriotic symbols and valorized participation in specifically patriotic activities as a way to both make themselves true Americans and to signal their true American identity to others -- to create community and strengthen social bonds by defining themselves as inside the group and by extension to define everyone who didn't participate correctly as outside and Other, and therefore a fair target.

This took a particularly ugly turn in the 1930s, and segments of contemporary society have unfortunately revived a lot of that.

Maze Runner
08-30-2018, 08:25 PM
My question is WHERE did such nationalistic and patriot thinking come from?



I've noticed a drastic rise in "patriotism" since 9-11-01, even in LA.

Patty
08-30-2018, 08:31 PM
An Austrian friend of mine says that the comparison between Germans and USAians is that Germans are watermelons and USAians are peaches. Germans are hard on the outside, but once you get inside they are sweet and soft. USAians are soft and fuzzy on the outside, but have this hard core.

I think there is something to the analogy.

cstoned
08-30-2018, 09:57 PM
Weird! I spent a lot of time in Ann Arbor studying under a lot of UMich German Language Professors (PICS 2017 lol). Is your novel based on personal experience, by any chance?

Quentin Nokov
08-30-2018, 10:30 PM
Weird! I spent a lot of time in Ann Arbor studying under a lot of UMich German Language Professors (PICS 2017 lol). Is your novel based on personal experience, by any chance?

Oh, cool! ^.^ No, it's not based on personal experience. I just looked around the USA for universities that taught German courses. I live in NY and liked the idea of being near the lakes so I chose the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

What were the German Professors like there? I'd love to know your experience there.

jennontheisland
08-31-2018, 12:10 AM
The US needed patriotism and oaths to ensure that they, as a new country, were able to create and maintain an identity. People who were British suddenly became American; that shift needed reinforcement and symbols such as flags, and pledges made to them, are great ways to do that. They're also a great way to ensure immigrants are regularly reminded of where they are now, and what team they should be cheering for.

The mythos of the US was very deliberately structured. Things like the "rugged individualist" (when really mostly they were rich white men who inherited income), "freedom" (omg so many streets named after it and still no clue what they're free of), and "liberty" were all defined as part of "America". They're even personified in statue and art. Then came the "American Dream" which offers every person the rights and benefits of what once only belonged to nobility: a hand in government, the right to own and defend property, and a great big lawn in front of a house all to yourself.

Marissa D
08-31-2018, 01:04 AM
Hyper-patriotism and an emphasis on patriotism-as-performance were both features of US culture before WWII -- they were both seen in the decades before, and I think show up at the time of the Spanish American War. They're an obvious focus for people during wartime, especially during wars that are being heavily promoted, and took hold in a culture that was going through massive, wrenching changes -- large-scale immigration, large-scale migration from rural communities into surging industrial cities, political and social upheavals associated with industrialization, economic growth & disruption, uprooted people looking to find and build a new community...

Many of the cultural, social, political, economic issues we are dealing with today are essentially the same our ancestors were dealing with 100+ years ago.

People turned to the flag and other patriotic symbols and valorized participation in specifically patriotic activities as a way to both make themselves true Americans and to signal their true American identity to others -- to create community and strengthen social bonds by defining themselves as inside the group and by extension to define everyone who didn't participate correctly as outside and Other, and therefore a fair target.

This took a particularly ugly turn in the 1930s, and segments of contemporary society have unfortunately revived a lot of that.

All this. I think the aftermath of the Civil War also played into the emphasis on patriotism that rose in the later 19th century--but very definitely the US's nature as a country of immigrants, looking to become American.

Chris P
08-31-2018, 01:48 AM
If you live in New York you likely are alrewdy aware of this, but university towns in the midwest tend to be islands that differ quite a bit in culture and politics from the surrounding areas. Take a look at the election map by county (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016#/media/File:United_States_presidential_election_results_b y_county%2C_2016.svg) for the 2016 election. From the eastern border of Ohio to Colorado and north of Tennessee, any county voting for Clinton either contains a large urban center or is dominated by a university, or both. During my university schooling in Iowa and Wisconsin, there was tension between the students and the "townies" for a number of reasons. Your character might wrestle with these tensions as she/he tries to fit in socially.

cornflake
08-31-2018, 02:42 AM
Again, this is SO geographic, and it's not small numbers of people we're talking about.

Notice the governour of New York saying that America was never that great and taking very little flack from inside NY for it. I don't know anyone doesn't agree with him.

Siri Kirpal
08-31-2018, 05:55 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

The American thing about the flag also stems from the fact that we've never had royalty. The English don't need to fly their flags, they've got a Queen. And most other places had royalty and some still do. We've got a flag instead.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Snitchcat
08-31-2018, 01:01 PM
How about a viewpoint from a British Chinese person?

in a nutshell, I've noticed that Americans tend to be more trusting as a whole, more naive of the world in general. My latest visit reinforced that fact. And in general, I find the nation quite insular as well as rather arrogant and assuming in the way so-called representatives of the USA push the USA's culture onto other cultures. Yet, my experience includes genuine, friendly, welcoming people. (I have at least one American bestie.)

For a "free country", IMO, the USA is incredibly litigious and it appears that everyone relies on the government for everything: improvements, even to the individual, still needs the government to lead and guide the entire thing, or to at least kick off the movement.

It's also always puzzled me: why the "sue-happy" practice? If someone offends or does something wrong or in some very minor way breaks a law, it's litigation (civil court, arbitration, criminal court, etc.).

Regarding religion: it's pervasive to the point of annoyance from my viewpoint. Being religious is fine, believing is fine, etc. I'm not a fan, however, of proselytising and what-have-you. Also, not a fan of what comes across as "the USA has this point of view and it's the only right point of view; if you disagree, you're wrong". On the other hand, I do admit: I've met many Mormons and not one of them was pushy about their religion. In fact, they were humble and genuinely nice people.

I also find that Americans (USA) can be quite emotional about topics: people are ruled by their emotions. Something bad / good happens and -- for me -- I find the reaction is very over the top. Then there are those whose emotions are not so similar to a parabola.

The one thing about the culture I find extremely off-putting is the lack of respect some men have for themselves and for the ladies. And that lack of respect, I think, comes from the parents' lack of perspective in these men's upbringing.

In some ways, I see modern American (USA) culture reflecting the absolute traditional roles of men and women: men are loud and "confident" (aka, brash / arrogant / over-confident / must be macho / must be in the foreground) and women are "meek" (aka, fearful, in the background, etc.). But to me, these stereotypical roles are a throwback to a time when women were regarded as property.

So, simultaneously, I guess the American (USA) culture is regressing, but there is progress.

Maybe "melting pot" is applicable to the country as a whole instead of a few cities?

Hope this helps.

BradCarsten
08-31-2018, 03:22 PM
Coming from a country where we have 6 foot walls with electric fences on top, and motorized gates so that we don't have to get out our cars at night in case we're hijacked, I look at those small American towns with open lawns and bicycles lying out on the pavement (I was going through google Streetview when I noticed this, as well as open garages with no one about), and think it looks quite utopic in some places.

-I see Americans as being proud of what they have and patriotic.

-The few tourists I've come across here seem to talk loudly. (Perhaps we're just quiet.)

-American's seem to enjoy, (and are good at) figuring out processes for everything. You can be painting egg boxes with your kid, and they have experts somewhere online who have figured out the best techniques and can tell you all you need in order to push yourselves to the next level or ten. This also seems to create a lot of fads when it comes to diets and health etc.

-As someone mentioned above, there seems to be a lot of lawsuits. The other day I walked into a sign that a shop had hung too low. I cut my head open, gave an embarrassed laugh, shook my head to get my eyes back into focus and kept walking.

-They seem to love going bigger and better, where they won't stop with a double hamburger, they will create the quadruple bypass burger with 4 patties deep-fried in lard. They don't just have churches, they have mega-churches. They don't just have therapy groups, they have Tony Robbins filling out stadiums.

-Something else I noticed is that a lot of people seem to be quite open about private matters. They don't mind airing dirty laundry on public shows like Dr Phil etc for the whole world to see.

Disclaimer, I obviously know that everyone is different and that these are generalizations.

Quentin Nokov
08-31-2018, 06:20 PM
If you live in New York you likely are alrewdy aware of this, but university towns in the midwest tend to be islands that differ quite a bit in culture and politics from the surrounding areas. Take a look at the election map by county (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016#/media/File:United_States_presidential_election_results_b y_county%2C_2016.svg) for the 2016 election. From the eastern border of Ohio to Colorado and north of Tennessee, any county voting for Clinton either contains a large urban center or is dominated by a university, or both. During my university schooling in Iowa and Wisconsin, there was tension between the students and the "townies" for a number of reasons. Your character might wrestle with these tensions as she/he tries to fit in socially.

When I started doing the research one of the things I did was check the 2016 voting history of, not just the state of Michigan, but the counties in Michigan. I found that Washtenaw county where Ann Arbor is voted heavily for Clinton, although Trump won all 16 electoral votes. I live in Niagara County in NY. The map shows that we vote predominately Trump, but in Erie County where the University of Buffalo is, they voted Clinton. We saw a map of my hometown and how the areas voted. In the town people voted for Trump, but in the city people voted for Clinton. But more people live in the town than they do in the city. I'm hoping I can go off the personal attitudes people hold towards politics here in WNY as a base-line for how the people in Michigan would be. I don't think Western NY and Southeast Michigan should be too different. But I'll still be doing research regardless.

The Professor in my story would be very anti-Trump, whereas I'm thinking the young lady that he meets and hires as a tutor for his children is a Trump-supporter. (He doesn't know that right away, though. Lol.) So yes, I did consider wrestling with political tensions in the story.

Thanks for the map, I'm going to save that!

cornflake
08-31-2018, 06:31 PM
That's what I'm talking about when you're talking about 'American' attitudes as a whole.

Remember, Hillary got three million more votes than Trump -- that's a landslide. He won by having 80,000 more votes in areas that flipped the electoral college votes in certain states. Remember too, all of his 60 million votes represent 26% of the voting public. Far more people live in blue areas than red, though red areas are far larger in size. We down here below you know the majority of NYS by size is conservative -- the city pulls the state in a huge way -- but that's what happens. We're too populous for it to matter that a big swath of the place has kind of entirely different values and attitudes. Cuomo is still gonna be governour.

Quentin Nokov
08-31-2018, 06:44 PM
How about a viewpoint from a British Chinese person?

YES! Yes, please! ^.^




The one thing about the culture I find extremely off-putting is the lack of respect some men have for themselves and for the ladies. And that lack of respect, I think, comes from the parents' lack of perspective in these men's upbringing.

Could you elaborate a little more? I know one man who is actually pretty sexist against women and it irritates me to no end. He's my dad's friend so I have to be respectful, but sometimes I have to argue with him. My dad on the other hand isn't sexist. Though there's still the social stigma (which I'm personally okay with) that ladies act like ladies and gentleman should act like gentleman. But it's difficult for the ladies to be gentle and quiet when the men have become so boisterous, brash, and disrespectful so--to me-- it's like the social stigma is changing out of necessity. A lot of women (in rural, conservative WNY) are okay with men being the leaders, but when the men are bad leaders, the women seem to be stepping up and taking control.

And yes! The lawsuit thing. It is so annoying. People really do sue each other over the littlest thing. My cousin's daughter was being idiot and got hit by a car while she was riding a bike. Even though it was her daughter's fault, she tried to sure (thankfully the thing seems to have been thrown out the window) My coworker's mother slipped outside Bon-Ton on some ice and broke her neck--she's fine she just need a little surgery to correct it. She's suing Bon-Ton. The problem is, in WNY, ice is inevitable. The weather literally changes every 5 minutes. It could have been a puddle when she entered the store and a sheet of ice when she came out. She could have slipped in her own driveway. Things happen. I don't know; it sucks that she fell, it does. But I'm torn on the actual suing part of it.

The religion-part of America is definitely interesting but sometimes annoying. I think Americans show more 'religious' memes on Facebook than probably any other group of people. I really hate when people stand on the side of the road and hold up signs about if someone is saved or not. Lol. There are quiet, religious Americans and then there are the loud ones. Although the one thing that's nice is a lot of times we can tell if someone is a believer or not. You can often talk about God (not in a proselyting way, though) and most people will be on the same page. So it is nice to have a common denominator like that. So if Americans ever start talking about God with you, and you're like "What the heck this seems random!" It's because they feel comfortable bringing the subject up with you. I guess that's our naivety coming out. Lol.

Thank you So much for your response, it's definitely helpful!

Chris P
08-31-2018, 06:54 PM
When I started doing the research one of the things I did was check the 2016 voting history of, not just the state of Michigan, but the counties in Michigan. I found that Washtenaw county where Ann Arbor is voted heavily for Clinton, although Trump won all 16 electoral votes. I live in Niagara County in NY. The map shows that we vote predominately Trump, but in Erie County where the University of Buffalo is, they voted Clinton. We saw a map of my hometown and how the areas voted. In the town people voted for Trump, but in the city people voted for Clinton. But more people live in the town than they do in the city. I'm hoping I can go off the personal attitudes people hold towards politics here in WNY as a base-line for how the people in Michigan would be. I don't think Western NY and Southeast Michigan should be too different. But I'll still be doing research regardless.

The Professor in my story would be very anti-Trump, whereas I'm thinking the young lady that he meets and hires as a tutor for his children is a Trump-supporter. (He doesn't know that right away, though. Lol.) So yes, I did consider wrestling with political tensions in the story.

Thanks for the map, I'm going to save that!


I'm glad it's useful! For the sake of realism and a good story to tell, it goes beyond red/blue political lines. Consider the competition between a hipster high-end specialty coffee bistro and the main street greasy spoon diner, or when the hipsters discover the diner and squeal with delight from the back booths about "going local." There's also resident angst about the traffic in August when thousands of clueless students (many "from other countries where they don't know how to drive") descend upon the town and clog up traffic and denude the shelves at Wal-Mart. Many locals raise crime concerns due to university hangers-on and those who come to town to prey on/sell drugs to/have sex with the college students. And then there's property issues. I lived in a college town in Mississippi, and all hell broke loose when a developer bought farmland right next to an established, R-1 zoned neighborhood and wanted to put in 1100 high-density student condos and connect all the streets through the neighborhood. It was a mess that took years to resolve.

lizmonster
08-31-2018, 06:59 PM
The lawsuit thing. It is so annoying.

While frivolous lawsuits are absolutely a thing, keep in mind our insurance structure often leaves you little choice.

My mother had a friend who nearly died after a colonoscopy (she was one of those rare cases where a perforation happened). She was hospitalized for six weeks. She didn't blame the doctors at all - these things happen, and she was fully informed before the procedure. But her insurance payout hit her lifetime family maximum, and she had three children still in school. In order to keep her family covered, she had to sue. (Note this was pre-ACA.)

Now, why our health care works like that is a bigger knot, and I think that's related to the whole "we're all temporarily embarrassed millionaires" thing. But frivolous-looking litigation isn't always frivolous.

GregFH
08-31-2018, 08:10 PM
I think American culture/attitudes vary tremendously by region of origin, region where you live now, economic class, level of education, ethnic background, religion, political leanings, and all these interact. After 34 years of working with Germans, the same is true of Germany. A Catholic lawyer from Bavaria will be a very different person compared to a Lutheran blue-collar worker from a medium sized city in the north compared to a retired atheist from a small town in the former East Germany. That being said, there are some differences between the cultural "averages" of each country. And there are a mountain of articles and more than one book that examines these. You can also find more than one discussion board thread on this topic, for example: https://www.quora.com/What-do-Germans-think-of-Americans
Here are some links with which to start your research.

https://www.amazon.com/German-Down-Other-Insights-Culture/dp/099548130X
https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-American-German-Business-Cultures/dp/0968529305
https://www.mpikg.mpg.de/5483753/How-do-Germans-tick---Dez-14.pdf
https://matadornetwork.com/life/9-american-habits-i-lost-when-i-moved-to-germany/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/10206103/What-we-can-learn-from-the-Germans.html
https://www.german-way.com/history-and-culture/cultural-comparisons/

Unfortunately, some of the best books about how the Germans see Americans are available only in German.

Busha777
08-31-2018, 09:57 PM
I am Jamaican and I have mixed feeling about the prototype American mentality. First the negative: I hate to hear when Americans like to boast that their country is the greatest nation of all. Nothing is wrong with being proud of your nation (I for one am very proud of mine, despite the crime problem) but whenever I hear the boast I always feel there is a tinge of imperialism in the tone and that irks me.

The positive that I do like, and I wish my country could adopt more, is this "can do" attitude. They have this "fire in the belly" motivation that I admire

Tazlima
08-31-2018, 10:27 PM
First the negative: I hate to hear when Americans like to boast that their country is the greatest nation of all. Nothing is wrong with being proud of your nation (I for one am very proud of mine, despite the crime problem) but whenever I hear the boast I always feel there is a tinge of imperialism in the tone and that irks me.



As an American, I can't stand this either, not only because of the reasons you mentioned, but because it encourages complacency. For every "we have the best XYZ in the world," there's an unspoken addendum of "so there's no need to bother trying to improve on XYZ or study what other countries are doing to see what we could emulate."

Most of the folks I've known who hold this opinion have never traveled abroad and many seem to believe less that we're amazing, and more that all other places are simply horrible. I've seen people genuinely astonished to learn that other countries do, in fact, have traffic lights and indoor plumbing, let alone fantastic ultra-modern hospitals or schools that put ours to shame. That's the source of arguments like, "what are the separated children complaining about? They're living in much better conditions than the squalor they dealt with before." People spewing that kind of nonsense legitimately believe that everybody in every country south of the US border is living in a mud hovel, eating gruel with their fingers and blinking away flies.

One major difference I noticed when I lived abroad was with the media. Growing up in the US, the news was all about the US. If you picked up a newspaper, it seems like the sections were all US-centric and "world news" was its own separate category, separate and apart. If you chose to do so, you could easily ignore the rest of the world, and still have a steady stream of news with dealings closer to home.

When I moved to Italy, I was amazed at how frequently even local news stories would make mention of other countries. I had no idea how US-centric my daily life was until I stepped outside the box myself. It was just my normal experience of life.

That was 20 years ago, and I believe the internet has helped improve the situation, but I watched the local news just yesterday, and while I don't recall the entire lineup, every story I recall them mentioning was based somewhere in the US.

LJD
09-01-2018, 02:07 AM
Most of the folks I've known who hold this opinion have never traveled abroad and many seem to believe less that we're amazing, and more that all other places are simply horrible. I've seen people genuinely astonished to learn that other countries do, in fact, have traffic lights and indoor plumbing, let alone fantastic ultra-modern hospitals or schools that put ours to shame. That's the source of arguments like, "what are the separated children complaining about? They're living in much better conditions than the squalor they dealt with before." People spewing that kind of nonsense legitimately believe that everybody in every country south of the US border is living in a mud hovel, eating gruel with their fingers and blinking away flies.

One major difference I noticed when I lived abroad was with the media. Growing up in the US, the news was all about the US. If you picked up a newspaper, it seems like the sections were all US-centric and "world news" was its own separate category, separate and apart. If you chose to do so, you could easily ignore the rest of the world, and still have a steady stream of news with dealings closer to home.

When I moved to Italy, I was amazed at how frequently even local news stories would make mention of other countries. I had no idea how US-centric my daily life was until I stepped outside the box myself. It was just my normal experience of life.

That was 20 years ago, and I believe the internet has helped improve the situation, but I watched the local news just yesterday, and while I don't recall the entire lineup, every story I recall them mentioning was based somewhere in the US.

This is similar to what I was going to say. A significant number of Americans (not all, of course, but many) seem to be clueless about anything outside the US. Online, many Americans act like everyone else online must also be American, and are baffled by British spellings, etc. I seem to recall a post on AW in the current events forum where someone said something like "We're all Americans here..." and no! No, we're not! America seems to be very...America-centric.

I'm Canadian, and many years ago, the Canadian political satire show This Hour Has 22 Minutes used to have a segment called "Talking to Americans (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talking_to_Americans)," in which Rick Mercer got Americans to say ridiculous stuff about Canada. Some of the questions he asked would involve very Canada-specific phrases that was hilarious to us but totally understandable that Americans wouldn't know, but many showed a truly appalling lack of knowledge about the US's northern neighbour...and yes, this is a satire show, but it's not really out of line with many of the things I've seen and heard since.

Snitchcat
09-01-2018, 04:08 PM
YES! Yes, please! ^.^

[LEFT][COLOR=#222222][FONT=Verdana]


https://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Snitchcat https://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost-right.png (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10452087#post10452087) The one thing about the culture I find extremely off-putting is the lack of respect some men have for themselves and for the ladies. And that lack of respect, I think, comes from the parents' lack of perspective in these men's upbringing.


Could you elaborate a little more? I know one man who is actually pretty sexist against women and it irritates me to no end.

Heh, it's not the sexism that stands out. It's the behaviour and attitude.

The UK runs the gamut of men behaving well to badly towards women. In HK, you get the pervert stare occasionally, but other than that and some rather bad swearing, there are no cat-calls, no accosting, no unwanted attention. In fact, both men and women have polite, civil conversations. Of course, humans being humans, will have arguments and get loud, etc. But those are rare. Voices get loud because of the environment / cultural norms, but loudness doesn't indicate rows; instead, it's excitement, fun, respectful exchange.

While it's crowded and you end up standing shoulder-to-shoulder on trains, etc., everyone keeps their limbs to themselves (barring pickpockets). However, thanks to the overpopulation, self-awareness and awareness of another's personal space is low or non-existent. This awareness is replaced by tolerance and acceptance, or otherwise other ways of sighing and saying "eh, crowds, meh". And there's no threat of assault.

What I've noticed in the USA (pending region), is the lack of respect men have for women: cat-calls, unwanted attention, being told to smile even though the lady is not unhappy, and so on. And being too close to someone is invading their space -- something I understand completely. And such invasion, could be taken as threat of assault.

IMO, and IME, the difference is in the upbringing, the perspective that the parents bring.

In Chinese culture, it's always "respect your elders, respect yourself, respect, respect, respect". And how is it done? By example and by societal pressure: everyone subscribes to self-respect and being honourable, etc. It's also about face (respect, reputation), and knowing how to act in all situations (a sign of intelligence, emotional maturity, and a respectful, well-educated, well-adjusted individual).

And the attitude is "kids will be kids", but not "boys will be boys" or "girls will be girls". The moment a kid gets out of line, the parents step in (usually), and the crowd's collective attitude goes from "tolerate" to "100% disapproval". But again, no one interferes if it's not one's family.

Furthermore, the saying "it takes a village to bring up a child" is true in Chinese culture: The immediate family and the extended family all help bring up all the kids. So, it's respect and involvement, and social structure from the beginning. The focus is country first, then the village / community, then family (even now), and the individual is last (of course, there are changes within the Chinese culture that put the individual first, but "family first" is still deeply ingrained).

I've noticed the contrast in US nuclear families: The individual is first. Then the family, then society, then country.


A lot of women (in rural, conservative WNY) are okay with men being the leaders, but when the men are bad leaders, the women seem to be stepping up and taking control.

Same in the UK and HK; also a growing movement in China.


And yes! The lawsuit thing. It is so annoying. People really do sue each other over the littlest thing. My cousin's daughter was being idiot and got hit by a car while she was riding a bike. Even though it was her daughter's fault, she tried to sure (thankfully the thing seems to have been thrown out the window) My coworker's mother slipped outside Bon-Ton on some ice and broke her neck--she's fine she just need a little surgery to correct it. She's suing Bon-Ton. The problem is, in WNY, ice is inevitable. The weather literally changes every 5 minutes. It could have been a puddle when she entered the store and a sheet of ice when she came out. She could have slipped in her own driveway. Things happen. I don't know; it sucks that she fell, it does. But I'm torn on the actual suing part of it.

Hmm... I guess if the step belongs to Bon-Ton's premises, then the company is obligated to keep their premises safe. However, the weather can make such obligations improbable to fulfill in a timely manner.

For the British (mostly) and for the Chinese (mostly), suing someone is a huge monetary endeavour. Especially in HK. If there's no need to hire a lawyer, we don't; we like keeping our money. But HK is business-centric.


if Americans ever start talking about God with you, and you're like "What the heck this seems random!" It's because they feel comfortable bringing the subject up with you. I guess that's our naivety coming out. Lol.

Lol, I'll keep that in mind!

In Chinese culture, religion hits Buddhism and Taoism, but that's about as far as it really goes when talking about traditional religions. Christianity? Plenty of believers. Catholics? Same. Protestants not so many. Mormons? Loads! The LDS church is actually the richest church in HK, but they don't proselytise. At all.

I've also noticed the same type of attitude in the UK: religion is religion; conversion is not necessary.

Another poster brought up the news upthread: HK news is both local and international; China news is the same. However, the insularity of HK'ers... lol! Some HK'ers are comparable to Americans (USA) when it comes to the outside world. However, many HK'ers have also been abroad during their holidays.

Language learning is also quite prominent when viewing USA education / culture. As far as I can see, the USA offers English and Spanish mainly. And the majority of the nation speaks only English. It seems to me that this is quite the disadvantage in a world where many people know more than 2 or 3 languages (degree of fluency not included). This is especially evident when I see American tourists here: they're already rather "worldly", since they're on holiday here. But their lack of basic information of this place can be quite irksome: Apparently, HK'ers are also Mainland Chinese, therefore, we must speak Mandarin. HK'ers mistaken for Mainlanders is... well, it leaves a bad taste. (I contributed to a thread about this a long time ago, but don't remember where; probably in this Research forum somewhere.)

If you need more specifics, feel free to ask. This is a huge topic. :)

Alessandra Kelley
09-01-2018, 06:15 PM
Back in the 1980s my high school in the middle of nowhere-in-particular Wisconsin offered Spanish, French, and German language classes.

Tazlima
09-01-2018, 07:15 PM
Back in the 1980s my high school in the middle of nowhere-in-particular Wisconsin offered Spanish, French, and German language classes.

We had the exact same lineup in my Arizona high school in the mid 90s. However, languages only cropped up in our curriculum starting in middle school (which for us meant 7th grade - 12 and 13-year-olds). I don't remember if they were required in middle school, or just an elective. I do know one language was required to graduate high school, although I don't recall how many semesters you had to take. Definitely not four years worth.

I believe most other countries start, as a matter of course, to teach languages much earlier, don't they?

Roxxsmom
09-01-2018, 07:23 PM
While frivolous lawsuits are absolutely a thing, keep in mind our insurance structure often leaves you little choice.

My mother had a friend who nearly died after a colonoscopy (she was one of those rare cases where a perforation happened). She was hospitalized for six weeks. She didn't blame the doctors at all - these things happen, and she was fully informed before the procedure. But her insurance payout hit her lifetime family maximum, and she had three children still in school. In order to keep her family covered, she had to sue. (Note this was pre-ACA.)

Now, why our health care works like that is a bigger knot, and I think that's related to the whole "we're all temporarily embarrassed millionaires" thing. But frivolous-looking litigation isn't always frivolous.

I think this is a huge part of US Americans' tendency to sue over things that aren't really anyone's fault (and in juries being sympathetic to the plaintiffs in these cases). In addition to all the issues relating to insurance and the insane costs of medical care, we live in a society with less of a social safety net than most others, and if you can't work, you are seriously screwed. Disability isn't going to be enough to pay for your car, let alone your mortgage. Even apartments are out of reach in most urban areas. If a family's primary "breadwinner" (usually their man) loses their earning power or dies, their dependents are screwed.

And this brings me to something I've often thought about my country. In spite of being billed as the "home of the brave" we really aren't overall. We're a very fearful people overall, constantly looking over our shoulders, anxious about losing what we have or of being taken advantage of. We came of age as a country in a time of seemingly limitless opportunities for expansion--all this open territory where anyone with grit (or who didn't like the rules of where they lived) could stake a claim somewhere else. Most failed, but I think we still wish for that safety valve (and we can't cope when we're crowded and forced to compromise with others about how to use our property or where we can swing our metaphorical fists or whatever).

After the free land was gone, there were other stakes to be claimed. The 20th century was one of great economic expansion in the US, and there were tons of opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs in the decades after WW II. We didn't have the prolonged period of economic recovery and adjusting expectations (that maybe led to the development of many collective institutions at the state level, like nationalized health care and free higher education) that our allies did.

Most Americans seem to hate the idea of spending (tax) money on something that doesn't benefit them directly (and are poor at assessing indirect benefits).

Now, all the low-hanging fruit is gone, and there are fewer opportunities for upward mobility unless you have money to begin with or possess a certain skill set and personality type. Human labor is needed less and less. But our habit of blaming people for their own failures and shunning more in the way of safety nets has assured that the gap between rich and poor won't close.
Economic failure or mediocrity doesn't only represent a decline in one's standard of living, but it reflects on your value as a human being in this country. We're terrified of losing ground, and we look for someone else to blame when it happens. Perversely, we believe that constantly looking over your shoulder and fearing punishment make us stronger and better people.

lizmonster
09-01-2018, 07:41 PM
And this brings me to something I've often thought about my country. In spite of being billed as the "home of the brave" we really aren't overall.

I think a lot of what we have in the US is due to geography. We're bordered by two oceans and countries that aren't hostile (in general to anyone, not just us). We've got a tremendous amount of arable land, and space to expand (even now). It's been a long time since there's been open warfare on our soil. In short: we're lucky, but some of us seem to think we got all this by being Strong Brave Individuals. (I invite such people to read the history of this country.)

Introversion
09-01-2018, 09:39 PM
In spite of being billed as the "home of the brave" we really aren't overall. We're a very fearful people overall, constantly looking over our shoulders, anxious about losing what we have or of being taken advantage of.

We like to think of ourselves as "rugged individuals", because it lets us blame those with worse luck as "lazy". Makes it easier not to worry about the same happening to us.

I think we also collectively worry too much about what our peers think -- "we're all individuals", so long as we're not too different. The flock tends to peck the truly different to death.

Quentin Nokov
09-02-2018, 03:41 AM
Back in the 1980s my high school in the middle of nowhere-in-particular Wisconsin offered Spanish, French, and German language classes.

My dad in the 1970s took German, Latin and Greek; French and Spanish were available as well at the school, but he preferred German. By time my sister got into school German and Greek were gone. :( So sad.

Quentin Nokov
09-02-2018, 03:52 AM
Perversely, we believe that constantly looking over your shoulder and fearing punishment make us stronger and better people.

People I know use the "Armed society is a polite society" motto in relation to guns, but isn't gun-wielding just a scare tactic to keep everyone in their place? And if it is, then how is that being the Land of the Free? If you're constantly looking over your shoulder in fear of punishment, you're not really "free".




I think we also collectively worry too much about what our peers think -- "we're all individuals", so long as we're not too
different. The flock tends to peck the truly different to death.

Yup. So long as everyone follows the social norms, we're individuals, but the moment you step outside the box and began dabbling and exploring other socio-economic ideas and so forth and so on you're no longer an acceptable individual in the flock. It's hypocritical.

frimble3
09-02-2018, 04:23 AM
I've long suspected that an armed society is a jumpy society. After all, if everyone is armed, you're all at the mercy of the least stable, least sober, least sane, best shot.

porlock
09-02-2018, 04:24 AM
Being a writer, can’t help but think about this “make America great again” stuff

Scene: Reporter interviewing a guy in a MAGA cap

Reporter: “I understand you think America is the greatest country in the world.”
Guy: “Damn straight!”
Reporter: If it’s so great, why do you think it needs to be great again?”
Guy: “Um...uh...oh it’s them immigrants. Meskins and Arabs.”
Reporter: “Wasn’t your father an immigrant?”
Guy: “Yeah, over from Poland. Great country.”
Reporter: “So it’s okay just from certain countries?”
Guy: “Right.”
Reporter: “You do realize people from many different countries fought for the U.S. in many of our wars over the years? For example, that Hispanics fought on the Texas side during its revolution against Mexico?”
Guy: “Uh...you tryin’ to confuse me?”

(A little humor never hurts).

Which brings me to a serious note: I know many of us are ruled by emotion and tradition instead of logic and reason. (This includes many other countries) I know this is especially true in religion, but it is also strong in patriotism and other issues. Others here have mentioned fear – emotions are strong, and often shut down arguments. A lot has been said lately about civility and it is true that when two people are shouting at each other neither one listens.

Bolero
09-02-2018, 02:23 PM
You might want to try reading some Edwin T Hall - he deals with cultural differences in time keeping, personal space and the like. At one point he was writing manuals for American diplomats abroad on differences in customs - things like how long you keep people waiting before you let them in to see you and what it means (if anything).
He also commented on concepts of neighbourliness - that in many parts of the USA there would be an expectation that you can borrow things from your neighbour almost from day 1, but in the UK for example there isn't.

Some years back I knew UK folks who were spending months at a time working in the US at a US branch of their company and one thing that startled them was the questions in Trivial Pursuit - they said the American version in the geography section had the capital of France and a tributary of the Mississippi as being the same level of difficulty.

I do also think that in the UK we are more likely to ask awkward questions and not mind standing out a bit. Or at least that is a "national stereotype" impression of UK vs US

I was interested by Kate Adie's "The Kindness of Strangers" - a chapter from when she was a war reporter in Iraq. She interviewed both US and UK ordinary soldiers asking them what they thought the war was about and some of the US ones hadn't even got their heads around which war it was - they thought it was to do with the Iranian hostages. The UK ones all said "well, it's about oil".

Regarding flags and patriotism - in the Victorian period there was a lot of jingo-ism - the name comes from a song about by jingo we'll beat (insert target country here) and empire expansionism and so on. I was taught in history at school that the Crimean War was prolonged by jingoism. The start of it was a punitive action to make the Russians back off (can't remember the details) which was successful - then because of the flag waving fervour at home, the politicians ordered a continuation and it all went wrong as the Russians decided to turn back round and make a fight of it.
Then we had WW1. Much bigger impact on UK than US, with most families either losing a family member, or knowing someone who died. I was certainly taught some of the WW1 poets at school like Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori. There was also an impact of a lot of young women remaining spinsters because the young men of their generation died in the trenches.

Other thought - I watch things like the Good Wife - and don't know how much that is exaggerated for drama - but all the vetting of candidates families when they are standing for election and how it is expected that the kids and spouse turn up for photo calls and the like. Never seen that in the UK. Unless they are a candidate standing on a religious platform (which is rare and they generally lose their deposit they get so few votes) religion isn't mentioned and families are not mentioned. Just isn't done. Also the thing about politicians being expected to have some military service. Nope.
There used to be religious restrictions on who could stand to be elected, but they were whittled away over the Victorian period. In the House of Lords, bishops continued to have seats until relatively recently but they are gone now. Archbishops and the occasional bishop do make statements to the press - often about things like homelessness - but it isn't on a daily basis. There seems to be a fuzzy code of practice that they do so on humanitarian issues rather than on religious issues. (Unless they are directly making a statement on internal church matters like women becoming bishops.)

talktidy
09-02-2018, 03:04 PM
One thing I have noted, regards US hosting of the Olympics. US spectators barely responded with polite applause, when non-US competitors did well, while greeting the home talent with thunderous applause. Now the latter is exactly what one would expect for a country's home Olympics, but I contrast the apparent lack of interest in overseas athletes with when Oz -- I think -- hosted.

An African swimmer faced major difficulties with access to facilities in his home country, as the local body of water had a healthy, and hungry, population of crocodiles most of the year. The competitor didn't have a hope in hell of qualifying for the next round in his heat, but that didn't stop the Oz spectators cheering themselves hoarse for him.

Since the few Americans I have met were pleasant and courteous, I wonder if maybe it has never occurred to American spectators to spread the appreciation around.

Davy The First
09-02-2018, 03:34 PM
Just reading through, I'd agree with the following. I can't speak for Germans with authority, but I can for Europeans in general.

A majority of Americans do not have much awareness of countries outside the states, except perhaps where their lineage arose from. (They are different reasons for this)A minority hold passports.

There is no typical American - America is a collection of different areas, with often wildly different identities.

Americans who I've met abroad, tend to be naive and trusting, though that is changing. Europeans, not so much.

Americans are more mobile within America than Europeans are within Europe. The role of home place and family seem to be less important to Americans who are mobile. I've met Americans in San Fran who say "I'm from San Fran." Later turns out they've lived there 3 years. In Europe, such an idea is alien. You are 'from' where you were born in Europe - identity is heavily tied to place.

Americans are very open about intimate issues, Europeans are much, much more reserved. However this openness does not always translate to strong friendships - it seems to be a cultural thing.

The world, and life, seems to be far more black and white to Americans. For Europeans it's a variety of shades of grey.


There are logical reasons for most of these things. Europe is densely populated, with many cultures and languages living in a tight space beside each other, with a long, long history (often turbulent) between states. America, not so much.

Tazlima
09-02-2018, 06:08 PM
The role of home place and family seem to be less important to Americans who are mobile. I've met Americans in San Fran who say "I'm from San Fran." Later turns out they've lived there 3 years. In Europe, such an idea is alien. You are 'from' where you were born in Europe - identity is heavily tied to place.


"Where are you from," is heavily tied to place here, too, but it's sort of a two-pronged question. You're right that Americans may claim to be "from" someplace they haven't lived their entire life, and consider the "place you're from" to be somewhat changeable. In these scenarios, where you're from is treated almost like religion, where people who aren't happy with the one they were raised in may wholly reject their one they were raised in, and so thoroughly embrace and identify with their new one, that they consider it their "true home." It's the place that feels like home to them.

However, there IS a "where are you from," that's permanent and inescapable - the one associated with one's lineage. Most folks I know have gotten this question from time to time, and minorities get it at a much higher rate. You'll have conversations that go like this.

"Where are you from?"
"Burbank."
"No. But where are you REALLY from?"
"I was born and raised in Burbank, California."
"But where were like, your parents from?"
"My mom grew up in Burbank, and my Dad is from Kansas."
"No, but where are your ancestors from?"
*Sigh* "Vietnam."

Actually, the third exchange in this dialogue is generally skipped, but I left it in for emphasis. When someone in the US asks where you're REALLY from, it's understood that they're asking where your ancestors originated, generally out of curiosity about your physical characteristics.

It can become even more complicated for first or second generation immigrants, especially if they have any hint of an accent. For all the emphasis some Americans claim to put on "if you're going to come here, learn the language and really BE American, there's an opposing sense of "no matter how hard you try, you'll never, for your entire life, get the luxury of claiming to be from the US without having to field the follow-up question "but where are you REALLY from?"

I suppose the first situation is a natural extension of the second. If you spend your life being told you're not REALLY from the place where you were born and raised, then "being from" someplace becomes a much more malleable concept then it might be otherwise.

jennontheisland
09-02-2018, 08:23 PM
""Where are you from?"
"Burbank."
"No. But where are you REALLY from?"
"I was born and raised in Burbank, California."
"But where were like, your parents from?"
"My mom grew up in Burbank, and my Dad is from Kansas."
"No, but where are your ancestors from?"
*Sigh* "Vietnam."

I noted this too.... In Canada, if you as where someone's family is from, you'll usually get a list of the donor nations for their genetics (Welsh, English, German for me despite the fact that my great grandparents were born in Canada) few questions or hesitation; we all know and accept we came from elsewhere. In the US, they're AMERICAN. It seems as if identifying with any other nation takes away from their American-ness.

Roxxsmom
09-02-2018, 08:57 PM
We like to think of ourselves as "rugged individuals", because it lets us blame those with worse luck as "lazy". Makes it easier not to worry about the same happening to us.

I think we also collectively worry too much about what our peers think -- "we're all individuals", so long as we're not too different. The flock tends to peck the truly different to death.

Exactly, but the flip side of this is fear--fear of losing what we have. So many of us are scared of being weak, or being seen as weak.

I saw a truck with a bumper sticker that read "You fair share doesn't come out of my wallet" yesterday. This exemplifies the attitudes of many Americans about a social safety net. There's also an element of hypocrisy, because I'll bet the driver of that truck has benefited during his own life from the tax money paid by others. Deep down inside he may know it. There's a strong element of "You doth protest too much" in US politics (and morality). Though that's probably true everywhere.

Another thought I've had sometimes is that we are a country that lacks the long history and identification with a single (or smaller number, anyway) race or culture that many European countries do. We never had a royal family or national church either. So our shared symbols, such as our flag, seem to take on a much greater importance to many here--to the extent that "typical" Americans often forget that the map is not the territory. Many US veterans insist they were fighting for the US flag, for instance, rather than to uphold the Constitution or for other institutions the flag symbolizes. This may be part of the reason why many of us are so weird about our flag. Maybe it's easier to focus on an abstract symbol when we can't all agree on what it actually stands for?

Of course, all these generalizations about how Americans think and act are just that--generalizations. Another thing that characterizes us is diversity. The average Californian isn't like the average person from Alabama, or Alaska, or Texas or New York or wherever. There is a great deal of diversity within each of these states too. We are a pluralistic society, made up of people with ancestry from all over the world and of pretty much every religion and culture. We're more like a tossed salad than a melting pot.

At a certain level this is a source of great pride, but it also is resulting in a great deal of tension as people of the race and culture that was once thought of (by themselves, at least) as the "normal Americans" is on a trajectory to become on of many minority groups. Of course, it's always been a source of tension for the Americans who have been discriminated against, and now that more US citizens are visible and empowered some people can't cope. Some white people of European descent feel like they're losing something, even though the playing field is still strongly tilted in their collective favor.

Kjbartolotta
09-02-2018, 09:06 PM
"Where are you from?"
"Burbank."
"No. But where are you REALLY from?"
"I was born and raised in Burbank, California."
"But where were like, your parents from?"
"My mom grew up in Burbank, and my Dad is from Kansas."
"No, but where are your ancestors from?"
*Sigh* "Vietnam."

This is an almost-verbatim discussion I had the misfortune of witnessing between two of my mom's friends over Christmas.

ANIA (who was born in Poland): So where are you from?
PAM: I grew up in Bellflower.
ANIA: But where are you from?
PAM: My parents are from Texas.
ANIA: But where is your family from?
PAM: ...We're from Mexico.
ANIA: ...But where in Mexico?

Patty
09-02-2018, 09:23 PM
There's also an element of hypocrisy, because I'll bet the driver of that truck has benefited during his own life from the tax money paid by others.

Like the benefit he gets from driving his truck on roads kept up with tax dollars?

Instead of dirt? :)

Elenitsa
09-02-2018, 10:14 PM
I believe most other countries start, as a matter of course, to teach languages much earlier, don't they?

Most European countries have a first foreign language from second grade (if not from Kindergarten) and a second one from fifth grade, all through high school. The advanced language might be proof for graduation high school exam.

Quentin Nokov
09-02-2018, 11:24 PM
I noted this too.... In Canada, if you as where someone's family is from, you'll usually get a list of the donor nations for their genetics (Welsh, English, German for me despite the fact that my great grandparents were born in Canada) few questions or hesitation; we all know and accept we came from elsewhere. In the US, they're AMERICAN. It seems as if identifying with any other nation takes away from their American-ness.

Maybe I've misunderstood your comment, but a lot of Americans like to say where they're ancestors are from and will claim to be Polish/German/Irish/etc. even though they never grew up in those countries. It's a well understood thing that when someone asks, "Are you German?" they mean "Did your ancestors come from Germany" / "Do you have German heritage?"

My Canadian vet actually asked my sister and I that very question. "You're German?" he asked, because of our very strong German last name. "My sister just responded with 'Yes'." But I was thinking so much more technical than that. We've got English genetics; Norwegian genetics. We've got an ancestor who was Indian. "Black Jake" was his name. When we got into the car, I told my sister that I was thinking how we're actually a Heinz 57 of a bunch of different heritages and she basically responded that she knew that, but we're predominately "German". Even though the question could be answered far more technically, whenever anyone asks, "Are you German/Polish etc." They're looking for the simple answer.

And yet it's funny because I read somewhere that certain foreigners hate it when we say, "I'm XYZ nationality" even though we never grew up in the country; learned the language etc. Yet it's an understood heritage statement here.

Quentin Nokov
09-02-2018, 11:47 PM
My dad and I were discussing this yesterday how America was founded on religious freedom, and it's interesting that America sends out the most missionaries to fulfill the "Preach the gospel unto all the world and then the end shall come" prophesy.

The church that I'm part of (as well as other churches for that matter) could not have "preached the gospel unto all the world" if we weren't based in America where religious programing and preaching was the norm; where everyone was allowed a voice and to stand up and say their peace without fear of persecution. Many churches started out small in people's houses, moved to radio, to television and slowly expanded 'til they/we had spread the message, literally, worldwide.


I'm not sure, but I almost think Americans may be more interested in prophesy than other countries, but that's just an assumption. I have no citations for that, just personal opinion. Maybe because of our naivety? Jonathan Cahn, for example, has a pretty large following. Granted his 'Harbinger' revolves around America, so obviously Americans would be interested in what the future holds for their nation. But I find it interesting that he's a best selling author, which means enough Americans are interested in that sort of stuff.

I also find it interesting that a lot of Americans I've spoken to seem to have this belief that once America is no longer a world power, "the end has come" and Christ will be returning soon. I'm not so sure where the idea came from; perhaps the big-named evangelists? But I noticed that many folks believe that once America collapses, economically, the end of the world is nigh. Many nations have fallen, lost power, collapsed, etc. Why would the "death" of America be the end of the entire world?

Chris P
09-02-2018, 11:53 PM
I'm with you, Quentin; many US Americans will state their majority pedigree, or which X-American (Italian, Irish, etc.) culture they most identify with. "Hey, we're Italian so we talk loud at dinner" or "I'm a product of a Norwegian Lutheran upbringing so I never talk at the dinner table." I think most people realize their experiences are nothing like what's going on in the modern day "Old Country," but is instead an identity with the cumulative experiences and culture their families have encountered since immigrating. Saying you're Irish has less to do with Ireland than with what's happened to Irish immigrants in the US over the last 200 years.

Another point: some (insular, in my opinion) white US Americans don't see the irony of identifying with European ancestry themselves while not understanding the connection US-born immigrants' children from elsewhere feel for their respective families' "Old Countries." My wife's book club read "One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter" by Scaachi Koul. One person (nondescript white) said she got tired of Koul going on about how brown she was. "'I'm brown! I'm brown!' Big deal. You're here now."

Tazlima
09-03-2018, 12:13 AM
I'm with you, Quentin; many US Americans will state their majority pedigree, or which X-American (Italian, Irish, etc.) culture they most identify with. "Hey, we're Italian so we talk loud at dinner" or "I'm a product of a Norwegian Lutheran upbringing so I never talk at the dinner table."

LMAO! You just reminded me of a friend of mine in college (for the record, she was American, had no living ancestors who had lived anywhere but the US, and had never traveled outside the country herself).

She was nice enough, but she had this one really annoying habit of refusing to take a side in any debate, ever, no matter how minor (e.g. a group of us voting on which movie to watch). If asked to be a tie-breaker, or even just for her input or opinion, she'd always respond the same way, avoiding the question by invoking her ancestry, and I quote, "I'm Swiss; I'm neutral."

Davy The First
09-03-2018, 12:31 AM
My dad and I were discussing this yesterday how America was founded on religious freedom, and it's interesting that America sends out the most missionaries to fulfill the "Preach the gospel unto all the world and then the end shall come" prophesy.

The church that I'm part of (as well as other churches for that matter) could not have "preached the gospel unto all the world" if we weren't based in America where religious programing and preaching was the norm; where everyone was allowed a voice and to stand up and say their peace without fear of persecution. Many churches started out small in people's houses, moved to radio, to television and slowly expanded 'til they/we had spread the message, literally, worldwide.


I'm not sure, but I almost think Americans may be more interested in prophesy than other countries, but that's just an assumption. I have no citations for that, just personal opinion. Maybe because of our naivety? Jonathan Cahn, for example, has a pretty large following. Granted his 'Harbinger' revolves around America, so obviously Americans would be interested in what the future holds for their nation. But I find it interesting that he's a best selling author, which means enough Americans are interested in that sort of stuff.

I also find it interesting that a lot of Americans I've spoken to seem to have this belief that once America is no longer a world power, "the end has come" and Christ will be returning soon. I'm not so sure where the idea came from; perhaps the big-named evangelists? But I noticed that many folks believe that once America collapses, economically, the end of the world is nigh. Many nations have fallen, lost power, collapsed, etc. Why would the "death" of America be the end of the entire world?


The End is Nigh has been around for quite a while, certainly gaining a foothold in the mid 1800's (in England and the US) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening and early 1900's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Great_Awakening
Recently (30 years) it has become more prevalent (The Late Great Planet Earth etc)
Not sure why. Might just be the need for theatrical component - a by product of the Awakenings.

ETA Even earlier it seems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Great_Awakening

Chris P
09-03-2018, 12:35 AM
And then of course there is this comedy gem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crAv5ttax2I).

Davy The First
09-03-2018, 01:30 AM
And then of course there is this comedy gem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crAv5ttax2I).
Fab.

Yeah, I did get a sense that identity was a tricky issue for Americans. But in fairness, even in a tiny place like Ireland, you are still a 'blow-in' in your great-grandparents moved to a new village. (Him? Oh, he's from X, originally, (ie, 200 years ago), a 'blow-in'

Bolero
09-03-2018, 02:40 AM
Some areas of the UK - generally the more rural ones - you are an incomer if you weren't born there to parents who were born there (and ideally grandparents too...). I've been asked in my time where I am from and my parents moved house three times while I was growing up and I spent years in different parts of southern England, then I went to Uni in London, then I worked several places outside London but nearish and then....... So, take your pick.....I don't ever go back to visit where I was growing up, because there is no-one left there that I knew then. My parents were "from" two really well separated places etc, etc

I would also say that the last bit question on "where are you from" - not sure that many people in England would ask that. Possibly note unusual surnames - there was a wave of Irish immigrants digging canals, escaping the famine - but a lot of them anglicised their surnames. Then there were eastern europeans who fought in WW2 and stayed - and in some towns there are Polish clubs, Lithuanian clubs etc. You might get a polite question about the derivation of your surname - that being a politer version of where are you from. Some unusual surnames go back to French Hugenot refugees - and they turned up 1680s onwards.
Would also note that due to different settlement origins in north and south, with north being a lot more Viking, you see regional differences in surnames and place names.
Big difference between US and UK organisation - no states. There are county councils and town councils and city councils, but they do not have law making abilities, just a bit of control over local services, council tax and planning matters - and central government has a lot of input even on those. So there is not a state and federal law system and there is not the variety of law enforcement organisations - no such thing as elected sheriffs. First ever elected police were the regional police commissioners and that started a couple of years back.

I have also heard (don't have a reference) that one of the motivators for puritan emigration was not strictly speaking religious persecution, but that they wanted to go further in simplicity and purity than was mainstream in England, so they were seeking somewhere where they had the licence to do that.

Atlantic12
09-03-2018, 07:40 PM
I'm thinking of writing a novel exploring the different perspectives of the American mentality. My novel idea centers around a German man coming to America. He works at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as a German Language Professor. Long story short, he gets involved with an American woman who is tutors his children. The two characters are suppose to come from different backgrounds, with different schools of thoughts and are essentially opposites. I want to explore the different trains of thoughts held by Americans as well as the foreign perception of Americans. What they think is wrong and how it could or should be fixed.
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Disclosure: I'm an American woman married to a German man and I grew up in Michigan. I didn't go to UofM but grew up nearby.

It sounds like you're approaching the story from a thematic direction, not the characters, which is fine, but I think the topic is so so broad, I don't know how I could possibly help you any more than people already have here. Way too much depends on who your two main characters are. Those people (and your own passions) should decide which aspects of culture you want to wrestle with in your book.

As an example -- if the guy is a German language professor and an actual German, than that person is going to be absolutely steeped in the long, rich tradition of German literature. I'm sure you know this, so no problem, I just wanted to point out that the German language is one of the hugest issues that educated Germans take pride in. I mean huge pride in. Historically, the German language and its variations were considered *the* unifying factor that answered the fundamental question "What is a German?" This led to good things like the creation of Germany out of hundreds of little fiefdoms and kingdoms, and bad things like the Third Reich. For many years, people thought the classic German translation of Shakespeare's works were the *originals* ie that Shakespeare must have been German because the language was so good.

Your professor will speak fluent English, of course, but he will have had to learn a third language in order to graduate from "gymnasium" (upper school or high school) in order to go to university. He certainly had Latin on top of that. So we're talking 4 languages. At least.

Contrast that with the American woman. If she's a tutor, she can't be a complete idiot, but she's likely to have no foreign languages at fluency level unless she's from an ethnic background where other languages were spoken in the family, or she lived abroad or whatever. The two characters might be wonderful people, but the man is likely to see her lack of languages as a bit of a flaw in her, a sign that she's probably not as capable of understanding other people from other cultures as he is. This is definitely a bit egotistical, but also a bit true. You learn another language and you learn how someone else thinks.

Whatever other cultural issues you deal with in your book, I think the above will be a huge factor over a lot of it because your main character is a German and a language professor. He doesn't have to be exactly like this, of course, but it's more than plausible. I'm highly educated and fluent in 2 languages and passable in a third, and my husband still jokes that I'm uneducated because I had no Latin. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. :-)

ps, Most of the Germans I know. . .well, all of them who've talked to me about this, would never in a gazillion years move to the USA right now. They're very openly disappointed, puzzled and hostile about the things going on there right now. It's seen as a fundamental difference in values. I.e. a certain reading of the Second Amendment is more important than human lives. They just do not understand this, and they're glad they don't have to. I could barely get my husband to visit my family in the States this year. That's how bad it is now. *And* relevant to your story ---- the Germans I know would never, ever raise their kids in the USA. Ever. And I'm so sad to have to agree with them. I'm grateful my daughters are growing up in Germany, and this feeling makes me very. . .I dunno, angry at my country, and just very sad.

Quentin Nokov
09-03-2018, 08:32 PM
Wow! Thank you so much for responding!




ps, Most of the Germans I know. . .well, all of them who've talked to me about this, would never in a gazillion years move to the USA right now. They're very openly disappointed, puzzled and hostile about the things going on there right now. It's seen as a fundamental difference in values. I.e. a certain reading of the Second Amendment is more important than human lives. They just do not understand this, and they're glad they don't have to. I could barely get my husband to visit my family in the States this year. That's how bad it is now. *And* relevant to your story ---- the Germans I know would never, ever raise their kids in the USA. Ever. And I'm so sad to have to agree with them. I'm grateful my daughters are growing up in Germany, and this feeling makes me very. . .I dunno, angry at my country, and just very sad.

I actually wanted one of the critical plots in the story to be that the German Professor is unhappy with America and has regretted coming to the States and wants to go back to Germany with his children. I didn't know that the Germans wouldn't think about moving to America now, let alone raising their kids or even wanting to visit at the current time. I know Trump has a lot to do with that, aside from the gun-issue. How did the Germans feel about America under the first Obama administration? Were they more open to the idea of living here / working here?

buz
09-03-2018, 08:53 PM
I'm not sure, but I almost think Americans may be more interested in prophesy than other countries, but that's just an assumption. I have no citations for that, just personal opinion. Maybe because of our naivety? Jonathan Cahn, for example, has a pretty large following. Granted his 'Harbinger' revolves around America, so obviously Americans would be interested in what the future holds for their nation. But I find it interesting that he's a best selling author, which means enough Americans are interested in that sort of stuff.

I also find it interesting that a lot of Americans I've spoken to seem to have this belief that once America is no longer a world power, "the end has come" and Christ will be returning soon. I'm not so sure where the idea came from; perhaps the big-named evangelists? But I noticed that many folks believe that once America collapses, economically, the end of the world is nigh. Many nations have fallen, lost power, collapsed, etc. Why would the "death" of America be the end of the entire world?



As a case in point regarding what people have said about variation from person to person, region to region: as a USian, this is all totally foreign to me. No one I know believes in prophecies, no one in any of my circles talks about God or Christ. Religion is only something I'm aware of as existing to cultures that I personally am an outsider to, even if nominally I am supposed to belong to one of them.


I didn't know that the Germans wouldn't think about moving to America now, let alone raising their kids or even wanting to visit at the current time.

It's not just Germans; it's most everyone, if my impression is correct.

Tazlima
09-03-2018, 10:01 PM
As a case in point regarding what people have said about variation from person to person, region to region: as a USian, this is all totally foreign to me. No one I know believes in prophecies, no one in any of my circles talks about God or Christ. Religion is only something I'm aware of as existing to cultures that I personally am an outsider to, even if nominally I am supposed to belong to one of them.




Same here, actually. I did have one brief friendship with an extremely pushy Christian. The moment she learned I'm an atheist, and every time we hung out afterward, she insisted on turning all our interactions into one long attempt to convert me, even after I expressly asked her to drop it. It was annoying as hell, so much so that eventually I quit associating with her and let the friendship fizzle out. (For the record, I know plenty of other Christians who DON'T do that - but living here in the Bible belt, I also don't generally bring up my atheism unless asked directly, and most people don't think to ask).

cornflake
09-03-2018, 10:30 PM
As a case in point regarding what people have said about variation from person to person, region to region: as a USian, this is all totally foreign to me. No one I know believes in prophecies, no one in any of my circles talks about God or Christ. Religion is only something I'm aware of as existing to cultures that I personally am an outsider to, even if nominally I am supposed to belong to one of them.



It's not just Germans; it's most everyone, if my impression is correct.

Same here.

I don't think I've ever had a conversation in the wild that involved Christ besides as an exclamation type thing (for Christ's sake can they not get more cashiers up here?). I know a few religious people, but none are Christian, and their religion comes up in terms of availability or general life ('Did you have a nice Eid?' 'Is X coming for Rosh Hashana?') not prophecy or the like.

I also don't know anyone believes the collapse of the U.S. would be the end of anything but the U.S. as a discrete nation (unless the end of the U.S. comes about as a result of a Twitter war that ends in nuclear conflict). People discuss what'd happen, like would it break up, would it be a Gilead-like scenario, or some new formation of NA or some new world system or what, but no one I've ever spoken to thinks the U.S. is that meaningful or powerful. It's been a country like 250 years. That's nothing.

Also, to the latter, hell yes. No one wants to come here. I know people who are afraid to vacation here, who reconsidered going to graduate school here, and citizens living abroad who are like 'oh hell to the no am I coming back now.'

frimble3
09-04-2018, 03:56 AM
I don't think the 'we don't want to raise our children here' thing is new, or just applies to the USA.
To a lot of more 'traditional' cultures, North America is a hotbed of lazy, disrespectful kids with no values, and trashy behaviour and clothes. They don't know the meaning of hard work, or study, and talk back to their parents, when they talk to them at all. And they can only do it in English.
Current politics aside.
A vast over-generalization, of course, but nonetheless, part of the picture.

Quentin Nokov
09-04-2018, 04:15 AM
Must be just around my little neck of the woods that people are religion-focused. I meet people "in the wild" as it could be said, who are a little more open about God-talk, but not in a proselyting way. I experience it most in the doctor's office I worked at as well as the one I clean. The nurse practioner who owns the office is God-focused and his secretary is as well. Although, now that I think about it, I am dealing with an older generation, patient-wise and employer-wise, so maybe that's why I notice it? My peers aren't religion focused.

I was just recently at a party and one of the older people there mentioned the collapse of the American economy and end-of-the-world stuff. I am in a rural area, and the party was held out in the sticks in nomads land where everyone is a gun-totting conservative. Interesting how regions in the USA can differ so greatly. One little village is a start contrast to the city that's 20 miles away.

I suppose maybe 'prophesy' isn't as interesting as a topic as I thought. I was just thinking about Jonathan Cahn being a best seller, but selling a million copies of a book in a country with 300+ million people I suppose shouldn't really be considered 'best selling' after all.

And that kind of sucks that everyone seems to be afraid even to vacation here, though I can't say I blame them exactly. I've actually been really depressed/disappointed in my country's governmental politics. I think all my frowning perspectives on what's going on is what led me to start thinking about this story in the first place.

Chris P
09-04-2018, 04:36 AM
I ran into the prophesy stuff more in Mississippi than I have elsewhere. When I did run into it, which was pretty rare, it was mostly people cherry picking one or two things from Revelations or elsewhere and seeing what they want to see. The antichrist rising in the east (everywhere is east of somewhere) could have been someone in Bosnia, Bin Laden, or even Obama being Kenyan (oh, lordy). Others were various interpretations of current events matching the Four Horsemen in a superficial way. Some of it is misinterpreted; one person thought the weird weather (not global warming, of course) fulfilled a passage "the times will not know their seasons," when in fact the passage reads "you will not know the time or the season." Most people were easily talked down off the ledge, but remained a "well, you never know; one of these days it's going to be real" cautionary attitude.

lizmonster
09-04-2018, 04:40 AM
I suppose maybe 'prophesy' isn't as interesting as a topic as I thought. I was just thinking about Jonathan Cahn being a best seller, but selling a million copies of a book in a country with 300+ million people I suppose shouldn't really be considered 'best selling' after all.

FWIW I've never heard of Jonathan Cahn (million copies or not), nor have I heard anyone talk about the downfall of the US being what brings on the end times. But I live in Massachusetts, and when I run into people talking about religion they tend to be Catholic. I don't think they're into the literal Second Coming stuff quite so much, at least as general Church doctrine.

The only times I run into unsolicited religious stuff are now and again when I have a meal with people who stop to say grace, and one woman who works at my supermarket who's fond of the "let go let God" philosophy of life. She's consistently positive, though, although definitely Christian-focused.

This is so regional I suspect you could go pretty much any way you liked, story-wise.

frimble3
09-04-2018, 04:45 AM
Of course, there are always patches of anywhere, where certain ideas take hold. I imagine that there are groups of preppers or back-to-the-landers or off-the-gridders that are giddy with excitement at the thought of the collapse of the US.

Not only will they be proven right, they will be proven prepared! They alone will survive! (And possibly get the chance to fight off the less prepared!)

For some of them the US is the 'whole world', and for others, it would be annoying and frustrating if other countries stepped up and tried to help, providing relief supplies, emergency services, etc. Isolationism at it's finest.

As to religion, it really is variable: there's a community around here where, it's said, a real estate agent starts out the quest for a new house with "What church will you be going to?" because so many residents have strong religious affiliations.

Chris P
09-04-2018, 05:00 AM
Keeping in mind Lizmonster's and frimble's points, most of the millenarians I ran into belonged to relatively unorganized sects, often led at the local or regional level by a mkver and shaker personality. The "mainline" religions, the Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, etc with highly structured leadership didn't get so much into it. They also tended to be people who believe the US is founded as a Christian nation, and somehow represents God's plan for government here on Earth (read: Conservative-led government. They have a deep mistrust of do-gooder liberal feel-good anything-goes nonsense).

FWIW, Grand Rapids is likely the only large city in the north that I know of where these attitudes are common. My wife went to school there and it sounds like a . . . Unique place. Of course there are pockets everywhere.

Final point, inviting someone to church is seen by the inviter as hospitable and sociable, and not judgemental. Church makes up such a large part of their lives they think they are being friendly.

frimble3
09-04-2018, 06:49 AM
Final point, inviting someone to church is seen by the inviter as hospitable and sociable, and not judgemental. Church makes up such a large part of their lives they think they are being friendly.
Yes, it's their social life, they're just trying to help a newcomer meet friends. It's one of the nicer parts of religion, that, if you're lucky, it forms inclusive groups, not exclusive ones.

frimble3
09-04-2018, 06:52 AM
I ran into the prophesy stuff more in Mississippi than I have elsewhere. When I did run into it, which was pretty rare, it was mostly people cherry picking one or two things from Revelations or elsewhere and seeing what they want to see. The antichrist rising in the east (everywhere is east of somewhere) could have been someone in Bosnia, Bin Laden, or even Obama being Kenyan (oh, lordy). Others were various interpretations of current events matching the Four Horsemen in a superficial way. Some of it is misinterpreted; one person thought the weird weather (not global warming, of course) fulfilled a passage "the times will not know their seasons," when in fact the passage reads "you will not know the time or the season." Most people were easily talked down off the ledge, but remained a "well, you never know; one of these days it's going to be real" cautionary attitude.
When I first started Bible study (with the Jehovah's Witnesses) and learned the 'you will not know the time of the season' and I thought, and still think, that it's the most comforting thing in the Book. Sure, end-times may be coming, but if someone picks a date and publicizes it, well, that day is safe!

Atlantic12
09-04-2018, 02:22 PM
Wow! Thank you so much for responding!
I actually wanted one of the critical plots in the story to be that the German Professor is unhappy with America and has regretted coming to the States and wants to go back to Germany with his children. I didn't know that the Germans wouldn't think about moving to America now, let alone raising their kids or even wanting to visit at the current time. I know Trump has a lot to do with that, aside from the gun-issue. How did the Germans feel about America under the first Obama administration? Were they more open to the idea of living here / working here?

You're welcome!

Most people in Germany assumed Clinton would win, so if your character interviewed and signed his contract before the election, he'd still be tied to the decision to move to the US even if he was shocked at the political shift. He'd likely be extremely wary of what he was getting into. He's a foreigner, and it matters in the new climate. Things like how the US expresses patriotism in a superficial sense would be totally weird to him -- if he's from western Germany. If he's from eastern Germany, a lot of it will remind him of the former socialist East Germany. I kid you not. One of my best friends grew up in the GDR and we are amazed at how many things were similar. Like the pledge to the flag, parades, lots of overt flag-waving stuff etc. But to a western German, most of that stuff is embarrassing, and hard core patriotic stuff is suspect. Like, "if you're so proud, why do you have to be so loud about it? It looks like insecurity to me. . . ." That kind of thing.

The Germans generally liked Obama a lot at first, but eventually soured in relation to Iraq, Guantanomo, and especially allowing war drones, which a lot of people here find horrific. He couldn't pull off what they see as perfectly normal things like decent health care. The ACA was like a pigmy bandaid version of the German system. I think people here understand what huge resistance he got from the Republicans, but also people in his own camp, but it's no excuse. I really think people here generally liked Bernie Sanders even more. His views are run-of-the-mill centrist over here. In the end, Obama was still to the right on certain issues like war from a German point of view.

(forgive my generalizing!)

But to answer your question, I think people had a lot less trouble moving to the US under Obama. But the worst issues existed long before Trump, the love affair with guns being the top one. Anyway, your character is likely to live in Ann Arbor, an oasis of progressive life, so he'd feel pretty at home there.

porlock
09-04-2018, 04:33 PM
I googled "top 25 safest countries" and USA was #121. UK was 57 I believe but not much consolation. Lived in Texas all 74 years and I swear things have gotten worse. We heard about the John Birch Society and others in the 50's but they were never as organized as some "alt-right" groups now. Of course, communication is so much better and the internet spews some pretty rank stuff. Even though WW11 is still fresh in the memory of a lot of people it seems like Germany especially had tried hard to put their militaristic image behind them. How that professor handles that could be a plot point. Several people made the point of different areas having different attitudes and this is true. Someone down here would probably counter with the terrorist attacks in Paris and London, and problems Europe has had with immigrants. You’ve got potential conflict before you even start writing – and of course, things aren’t perfect in Germany (I do read international news).

Atlantic12
09-04-2018, 05:18 PM
– and of course, things aren’t perfect in Germany (I do read international news).

The Germans would be the first to tell you that! ;)

Once I asked a German why he was so up in arms about the Muslim refugees, and he cited the rise in crime and he literally said, "I don't want us to end up like the United States."

Quentin Nokov
09-04-2018, 06:25 PM
Wow! Thank you guys for taking part in this dicussion it has been incredibly helpful!

Atlantic12, is the AfD more prevalent in East Germany? I find the German's remark about the Muslim refugees interesting. I just recently saw an article about the AfD marching/protesting after two men were stabbed to death by immigrants. Is anti-immigration the stance on a lot of Germans or is it 50/50? I recently saw the Sebastian Kurz of Austria was "cozying up" with Germany about the immigration issue. What do Germans think of Sebastian Kurz?

I was actually thinking of the German professor coming from Munich and being Catholic. Is there anything in particular about Catholicism in Germany I should be aware of? Also, I was wondering do the Germans still watch the Sissi Trilogy before Christmas? I came across it and bought my own copy from Amazon. (It had English subtitles) It's super cute. My family and I enjoyed it. But I was wondering if the Germans are as much interested in the Habsburg Empress as the Austrians would be? Same with the musical 'Elisabeth'. I watched a version from 2003 in Essen, Germany on YouTube with Pia Douwes and Uwe Kroger. I honestly think it's my favorite musical. Lol. It's got me way more diligent about studying German now. Ha ha ha. Are the Sissi movies / the musical Elisabeth sort of like cult-classics or does it depend on the person? My mom wondered if the Sissi movies are sort of like the way we view 'Gone With the Wind'. A cultural classic that everyone has heard of and has seen at least once.

And thank you for the German perspective of our politics. At least now I can give a reasonable explanation for the professor being in America under Trump. (He will have come during the Obama administration and assumed Clinton would win)

Porlock, there's so much going on in the world with so many view points. I almost don't know which conflict to begin with. I want to write this, but I'm also nervous because of all the controversial points. I want to make sure I represent both extremes and also give neutral ground in between. My characters often won't see eye-to-eye or shake their head and say 'I just can't understand that thinking', but I want to give view the world from all sides. This is going to be a major undertaking. Lol.