The US sucks. Sweden is better. Europe is better. It gets so very old after a while.
The other day I found myself in one of these conversations. Again. Once people figure out you are in the least bit connected to the US it opens the door for America bashing.
This time it was comparative bashing. The US just wasn’t as good as Europe apparently. Sweden more specifically. Swedes always claim that they hate nationalism. And patriotism. And any claim of superiority by one country. But many Swedes won’t hesitate to criticize other countries. America especially. You could argue that by constantly saying that other countries aren’t good, or at least not as good as, Sweden, Sweden becomes the default best country in the world. It’s all very Swedish really. But I digress.
Anyway, the conversation in question focused on America’s current foreign policy and international military presence. It is a strong presence. Some would argue too strong. And that’s fine. Debate and discussion is good.
Except, after moving to the more general discussion of Europe being better, the conversation turned to history. And how The US was still young and going through growing pains and that’s why they needed to flex their muscles and have a strong military presence. Like teenage boys on the bus showing off who is the strongest. America was those teenage boys on the bus from an historical perspective.
I like history. I like historical discussions. They entertain me, and I am a selfish person and like to be entertained by others. Really it’s a win-win.
So I jumped in. I focused on Europe though. Because it was being used as a comparison for their lack of military presence and so, obvious superiority on whatever objective scale these people were using. Because as much as people sometimes try to forget, Europe has a long history of war. And that long history stretches into the not so distant past. Obviously, the first two examples had to be the World Wars. But they were just kind of throw-ins. Then I worked my way up in the years. Closer to the present.
Next was the Berlin wall. Which got a mumbled response that it didn’t really count because it was Germany. I was unaware that Germany was no longer considered a part of Europe. I learn new things every day.
When that was dismissed I threw out eastern Europe. At which point, I was told that all Americans are defensive and it is a special attitude we have. Of course, I wasn’t necessarily defending America, just pointing out the somewhat hypocritical comments that Europe had somehow outgrown war. But that wasn’t the topic of discussion. Instead it was the defensive and ardent nationalism that all Americans have. Obviously.
Then today at lunch I realized why, to some extent, that stereotype is true. Because today at lunch, a girl told me that she didn’t like the US. Of course she had never been there. At which point she said she didn’t think she would like the US.
That’s when it hit me. That’s why many Americans are defensive of their country. It gets old hearing people say they don’t like your country without having any firsthand experience whatsoever. In the end, the longer I stay in the Sweden, the more isolationist I become as an American.
Welcome to Sweden. Clearly the best country in the world. By default.