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Europe vs. America – Two Mindsets Colliding

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 19, 2006

An American woman brought up a Topic for Discussion – she spoke about how the USA is perceived around the world – in her specific post to a Discusssion Group, the issue had come up in relation to Canada – but she opened it up for International opinions. She some gave examples of those perceptions and ideas about America


– that the world sees America as a bully nation

-the world sees the US as arrogant and hasty to start war, we helped Kuwait when they asked but not Rwanda (and we supposedly only help countries who have oil or other resources we can use,)

-we think Canada is a nation of *commies* because of their health care system

-we don’t do enough to help other countries (we just gave something like 22 million dollars to a third world country hit by a flood)

-we only see the world as it relates to us

-that Americans have an arrogant attitude


Here is my answer:

“I think that it has to do with the US being such a young Nation in comparison with Europe. It’s like looking a teenager. One day very confident and all mature like, only to next day being quite the opposite, throwing tantrums and being absolutely obnoxious about things.

I have learned over the last two years in Care2 that Americans in general are very different from Europeans. I call it the American Mindset vs the European Mindset, and it does seem that while it is quite ok to criticize other Nations for their flaws and failures – criticizing the US is almost always seen by Americans as Anti-American. Or it’s called bashing.

In Sweden where I live, Americans do have a reputation of being loud, rude, arrogant, self-centered, egotistical and generally very demanding people, who are easily offended if they don’t get what they want when they want it, the way they want it.

I have on more than one occasion had opportunity to witness American tourists drive clerks and waiters to tears over things that could easily have been solved, had there been just a little room for compromise on the tourists’ part. Not a nice sight. And it doesn’t do much to change the general perception of Americans.

I have seen the same happening here in Care2.

What I have wondered more than once is – if 1 person says that you are a donkey, you can brush it off, right? But if 100 people tells you you are a donkey, then perhaps you would do good to take a look and see if maybe you do have a tail and long ears…

So, what are the conclusions drawn by Americans when they here this criticism? Where do they think it comes from? Do they even HEAR it, or does it just peel off like water on a goose? What do you think is the reason that so many people around the world have the same perceptions of Americans?”

I think that what most non-American people are missing in the American approach is simple HUMILITY. You know the ability to say: “I don’t know”, “I am just one among others, and my country is just one among other countries..”, and going about helping without blowing their own horn or demand that people are eternally grateful or accepting that helping others means helping them on their own terms, giving them the help they are asking for without a hundred strings attached. To ask for help and to receive help is not the same as being willing to sell one’s soul or undying loyalty.

Or to simply take their place in humanity as humans, without fanfares and parades – paying their due to the Global Community without demading extra privileges or shirking their responsibility out of spite. The US as a nation, cannot one day demand to be given special privileges, such as immunity for their soldiers when they commit war crimes, and the next day refuse to pay it’s member fee to UN. Nor can it demand a seat on the UN Security Council with a veto vote, and then the next day support nations that violate Human Rights, or even violate those Human Rights themselves…

This is not all that Americans are – they are a lot of good things too – but because the negative is SO negative, it’s hard to see the good. Especially when the National Actions are hurtful to the entire world.



4 Responses to “Europe vs. America – Two Mindsets Colliding”

  1. agypsyblue said

    Maybe i’ve been hanging out with refugees for to long but I often feel like a stranger in my own land. For awhile I was wanting to leave, but I figure if I am really wanting to change the world, better to start at the root of the problem so perhaps I’m in the right place. Also, wherever I go, I will be an “American” even though I’m not in side. I’d rather say I’m from the Bay Area, we are different then the rest.


  2. agypsyblue said

    Maybe i’ve been hanging out with refugees for to long but I often feel like a stranger in my own land. For awhile I was wanting to leave, but I figure if I am really wanting to change the world, better to start at the root of the problem so perhaps I’m in the right place.


  3. virgomonkey said

    I think that so many people hate Americans that they’ve never met not due to personal experience but because “someone else said so”. Rather than critical thinking and looking at the topic at different angles, like sheeple, people just simply accept the hype without questions or challenge; the follow the crowd.

    Additionally, it is rather odd to make a sweeping generalization about 300 million people because a customer was “loud and obnoxious” in Sweden. That’s just one example. People swipe entire nations over their experience with one or a few and that’s not a quality that deserves respect.

    Most people don’t know what Anti-Americanism means. Anti-Americanism and being critical of the government and its policies are two different things. Simply put, Anti-Americanism is a prejudice and a form of xenophobia based on blindly believing in stereotypes. It’s a “hate by default” mindset. And it is not what I would expect from the worlds most self-proclaimed intelligent people i.e. Europeans and Canadians.

    I’ve seen people from other countries in action. I have also lived in Japan for 6.5 years and traveled a lot. I don’t notice people around the world generally to be less hypersensitive than Americans when it comes to criticism. As far as “loud and obnoxious” in concerned, I honestly don’t find us different from Canadians and Europeans in that matter. I am willing to be that just as many Canadians and Europeans have made Americans cry. Prejudice does these things. A Brit spat on a 12 year old girl in the streets of London because she was wearing a shirt with the US flag on it, for instance. It’s not what he did as much as WHY he did it.

    The American government is corrupt. And too many people confuse the average American in the street with its government. Then they hate them. What they don’t realize is that Anti-Americanism is most popular in America herself. Actually, most non-Americans don’t realize this and it amazes me as I would like to believe that people judging Americans would have some level of expertise. But on account after account, these people are ignorant.

    In any event, we Americans have no more control over our government than Europeans and Canadians. People expect too much from us and I find it ridiculous and unrealistic. Just because we’re a superpower doesn’t mean we think that we’re the best or that we ARE the best.


  4. Capt Sasha said

    A lot of people who dislike Americans do it for good and legitimate reasons, which Americans construe as ‘anti-Americans’. Americans who decry ‘anti-Americanisms’ as prejudicial and xenophobic are often softcore xenophobes themselves. With only a little provocation, it is easy to take out that side of their behaviour.


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