Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The up side to getting blamed for everything

As I have heretofore diligently and occasionally bitterly chronicled, we Americans abroad often find ourselves on the defensive, easy targets for disgruntled Europeans looking for somewhere to direct their frustration with American policy and the irrepressible forces of globalization. Our unimaginably huge size, inward focus, and frequent complacency only exacerbate their sense of powerlessness and irrelevance. And, I think, they are weary and sober and disenchanted by history in a way most Americans can't really understand. A friend recently observed, more elegantly than I remember here, "Europe is tired of wars. We have been fighting each other for centuries and we are ready to move on, try different things."

We abroad here usually serve as whipping boy and scapegoat quietly, polite guests at another's dinner party. We nod and listen and explain and mediate. We concede points. We apologize. We laugh. Sometimes we, I, do not maintain the dignity of our country, but it is not without personal cost. 

Today, though, Europe celebrates with us. Europeans know our history and they see the grand significance of this moment. The blame has morphed into (literal) personal thanks and congratulations. For better or worse, we take all the blame and all the credit for our huge, amazing, perplexing nation.

3 comments:

Swiss Mr. said...

It helps when you lie to everyone and tell them Obama only won by one vote. Your personal vote.

jenicrob said...

I'd dispel the compliments by telling them I voted for McCain.

oijoyphoto - the husband said...

wait, you didn't vote for mccain?!