A Jamaican woman who cleans my place once a week announces that if she could vote she’d vote for Bush. Seeing the shocked look on my face she says "you're surprised? I think he's a nice man...I know nothing about his politics or policies, but 'e seems like a nice man"
Jeez, she may as well vote for a cartoon character if it's all about conviviality, charm and niceness. The Bush crew are smiling as they stick the knife in.
But maybe she feels she’s cutting to the essence of the man - that her guts and instincts regarding a person are more reliable a measure than what they say or pretend to be. Politicians are professionally good at deceiving, and maybe her instincts are an attempt to cut through that. To see the real person behind the words. She senses that a look in the eyes and the facial expression reveals more of the person than policy and politics.
It certainly would be a time saver.
Europe is manicured. The whole continent, except for some semi-inaccessible places in the alps, northern Scotland or Scandinavia, has been groomed and tended by the hand of man. It's a vast millennial project, requiring the cooperation of scores of nations and peoples speaking different languages and with different cultures.
America has nothing like it- except maybe the aptly named New England. America still has, lurking around the edges in tattered remnants, bits of wildness and danger. Even in places where that wildness is illusory it exists as a living memory- people internalize it's existence and act as if it is still there, and behave accordingly.
Maybe that's why lots of North Americans feel the world has to be tamed and brought under control while Europeans, having achieved that control ages ago, feel a duty to cultivate, nurture and manage.
Even in their social worlds Europeans find adventure in their neighbors, in other people- while Americans feel a need to search for it "out there."
I didn't really have a sense of our precarious coexistence with nature until I took a short, very puny, trip to the Australian outback...
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