Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
My wife and I have been in Germany for the past week and we’ll be staying for one more. We both speak German and we know people over here. We have yet to pay for a meal or lodging and even though we have a rental car, we barely have to use it. We came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my wife’s host parents from when she was an exchange student in high school. (I was too, although at a different time and in a different city.) It’s been a never ending stream of small parties and get together’s since then as we all catch up since we haven’t been here for about 10 years.
We are staying in what for Germans passes for countryside; a small town outside of Münster called Emsdetten. Like so many other German towns, it’s been around for, like, forever with enough history for ten American towns.
The Germans that we know still have their jobs into their 50’s and in most cases, they make more money than they did ten years ago. Their health and retirement are both secure. They are well aware of the power that the rich wield and they hold them in check; their jobs have not been sold out from under them and they are not facing a raging financial crisis full of foreclosures, insanely high unemployment and an economy powered by a rubber band. They have extra money and they take vacations; they don’t argue constantly about politics and above all, they don’t live their lives like we do . . . full of worry.
It’s not up for debate anymore, when comparing the U.S. to Germany; they’re better than we are in too many ways to count. They are more civilized than we are. Like most Americans, I grew up with the Woo-Hoo-We’re-Number-One! mentality and I bought into it to a certain extent even though I have lived overseas. It’s so much part of our culture that it’s hard to overcome.
But not anymore. The U.S. has crashed and burned as a first world nation and we’re in a decline that shows no sign of abating; things are getting worse, not better. Being in Germany really rubs salt into that wound.
Their houses are smaller, but far better made. I have yet to fight with a door to get it to open or close properly. They don’t stick. They walk and bicycle everywhere and they can do this because their cities have not been taken over by suburban shopping malls; they relentlessly protect their small businesses and this has paid off with tighter, more financially stable communities. It’s what happens when people have good jobs; not the crappy Walmart and McDonald’s variety. Naturally they have nationalized medicine; everyone is cared for and the doctors live just like everyone else and aren’t saddled with huge school debts.
There is simply none of the insanity here that I will soon be coming home to. My generation in Germany has it good while I will return to a country where I have no medical insurance, struggle to pay my mortgage and where the good life in general is just a distant dream. And I have it much better than most.
As difficult as it is for me, being an American, I have to face up to the humility of knowing that when it comes to being civilized, the U.S. is not number one.