Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Barcelona: Day 99 : Cultural Differences .

This morning, I was looking at youtube videos on Irish slang, as I have learned a bit here and there from a friend, but many of the suggested videos were ones on cultural issues. For example, many were in regards to people who had visited a country and just overwhelmed by the differences or the words that were used. This is particularly in regards to the differences between England, Ireland, America, and Australia. We may all speak English, but that doesn't mean our cultures are the same and commonplace language is the same.

Soon the suggested related videos began to focus more and more on anti-American sentiment. There were parts of documentaries that were questioning why there was so much of it. America as a country has been a great help to many countries in the past, particularly during war time, and yet there is still lots of anti-American sentiment out there. It has been generalized to say that Europe hates America. Personally, I haven't experienced this, but I have no doubt in my mind that it is true. I feel out of place and a bit vulnerable in Spain, mainly because of my physical appearance. I constantly watch my back. While in Germany, I felt much more comfortable, because I fit in physically and could somewhat speak the language. It also was just not as sketchy of a place as Barcelona is. The thefts and criminal exploitations are numerous and common.

One guy explained it as the fact that America is not hated for what we do, but for what we are. Is it the stereotypes? Power hungry, manipulative, greedy, fat? Cultures will always clash, in my opinion. Some are more well known than others to be belligerent towards each other. But I never thought that America was more or less hated across the continent of Europe. That sort of blew my mind.

I think that in the past years the ill sentiment has grown with our participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have been there 10 years, and what has been accomplished? What do we have to show for it? It makes things to be overseas in the midst of this. In the same way that some people are quick to blame an individual German for Nazi Germany, I think some people are quick to judge an American for the decisions made by their political and military leaders.

I support our troops wholeheartedly, and really appreciate all that they do, so much so that I plan to join them, but I can't say that I fully support the war we're fighting. In my opinion it's turning into a modern day Vietnam sort of thing, where we are losing a concept of what we're fighting for, and so many people are dying without any sort of purpose. I'm hoping that whoever is elected next to president will have the proper decency to get these soldiers out of there and get them home.

I'm also hoping that the feelings against Americans will change. I can't argue that we wave a big stick -- but I'm hoping that we are not seen as oppressive or tyrannical. I'm just one person; I can't exactly do too much to drastically change the country. And even if I could, I don't think I'd trust myself to do so.

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