don’t celebrate too soon
June 11, 2013, 12:10 am
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , ,

Being told you can be President some day  – as American boys and girls are – can make you more ambitious and hopeful in the beginning; more morose when you realize it’s not happening; and prone to illusion throughout.

Being told you will never be PM – as happens in the UK – will acquaint you with the truth very early in life and may set you on the course of pulling every punch.

Ricky Gervais on some differences between Brits and Americans.

It’s often dangerous to generalize, but under threat, I would say that Americans are more “down the line.” They don’t hide their hopes and fears. They applaud ambition and openly reward success. Brits are more comfortable with life’s losers. We embrace the underdog until it’s no longer the underdog. We like to bring authority down a peg or two. Just for the hell of it. Americans say, “have a nice day” whether they mean it or not. Brits are terrified to say this. We tell ourselves it’s because we don’t want to sound insincere but I think it might be for the opposite reason. We don’t want to celebrate anything too soon. Failure and disappointment lurk around every corner. This is due to our upbringing. Americans are brought up to believe they can be the next president of the United States. Brits are told, “It won’t happen for you.”

The Difference Between American and British Humour, Time, Nov. 09, 2011

jane goes to canada
April 11, 2010, 12:16 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: ,

I couldn’t resist another quotation from the interview with Jane Jacobs.  In this one she talks about moving to Canada and how her American friends respond.  As an alien here in America, which has many great qualities to recommend it, I must agree with Jane:  Americans grow up differently, and somehow, like no one nowhere else in the world, come to believe that they are the center of it.

Yes, we were but we were—you know this was another thing that we found out when we got here. Americans don’t really think that other places are as real as America. We were leaving things behind. Well, we were coming to other things that were just as real and just as interesting and just as exciting. And people would ask me after we had decided to stay, “Well, when are you coming back?” “Well, we’re not. We are living here.” “Oh, but you can’t just—you’ve got to come back to real life.” And I would say, “It’s just as real.” This is very hard for Americans to understand and I think that may be the biggest difference between Americans and people elsewhere. Canadians know that there are places just as real as Canada. It’s a self-centeredness that’s a very strange thing.

Yes, they have got it so dingged into them that they are the most fortunate people on Earth and that the rest of the world—the sooner it copies what America is like, the better. I still have a lot of family in America. I still have a lot of friends there. There is a lot that I admire there very much. When I find America getting too much criticized outside America, I want to tell them how many things are good about it. So I am not any hate-America person. I really came here for positive reasons. We stayed for positive reasons, because we liked it. Why did I become a Canadian citizen? Not because I was rejecting being a U.S. citizen. At the time when I became a Canadian citizen, you couldn’t be a dual citizen. Now you can. So I had to be one or the other. But the reason I became a Canadian citizen was because it simply seemed so abnormal to me not to be able to vote.

-Jane Jacobs