April 20, 2004

FREEDOM

So the first quote that I pull from Mexifornia has nothing to do with either Mexico or California. But it relates to something that happened here yesterday:

Europeans who drive their safe government cars to the beach, work seven hours a day, enjoy six to eight weeks off yearly, and have nearly all their medical problems, tuition, natal care and rest home worries taken care of by a maternal government see us as impoverished. Yet Americans find Europeans' tiny homes, solitary small cars, single televisions, and outrageously expensive food, clothes, entertainment and gasoline a real poverty that restricts the individual's ability to satisfy his cravings.

I honestly don't have that much interaction with Germans. I go to restaurants occasionally, but usually to the same ones over and over, and I have some German friends, but they're pretty Americanized (it's hysterical to be with a group of German women who are trashing Germany mercilessly.) I have never really had any run-ins with Germans, so I'm fascinated by the stories the Conflicted Reservist tells. He started working for the Germans about two years ago and has thus lost his support from the US military. He is engaged to a German and owns a house here and for all intents and purposes is living the German life. And he faces deep troubles with Germany and her citizens.

His neighbors won't let their kids play with his daughter because she's American. He tried to help a neighbor jump start his car once, and the neighbor refused his help, saying, "You're an American." Two weeks ago he had his motorcycle tires slashed by a German biker who growled "American" in his face. This Reservist is trying to fit in to the German world, and he's facing shocking opposition.

When we first moved here, my husband went to get his haircut and had to listen to the German barber go on about how the US doesn't have any real freedom because once she was at Walmart and wanted to try on bras in the middle of the store; security wouldn't let her, thus we have no freedom. Europeans might have more freedom to take their clothes off whenever they want, but there are other realms I'd rather have freedom in.

The Reservist's fiancee just had a baby last week. They went to get their new daughter's birth certificate, and they were told they cannot name their child what they want. First of all, the Germans wouldn't let them give the child the Reservist's last name since they're not yet married. Second of all, they won't let them name their daughter Haley Amber because it's not German-sounding. So their child doesn't have a name yet. Legally, the Germans can tell you what to name your children -- an appalling governmental control, in my opinion.

Just as we define poverty differently, as Mexifornia shows, we seem to cherish different expressions of freedom. The Germans may look at our inability to tolerate boobs in the Walmart as being one step away from a police state, but I see the inability to choose a child's name as a more important freedom that's being denied to this Reservist.

So the Reservist is fed up; he's moving to Spain.

Posted by: Sarah at 02:53 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Funny, I always hear from the German wife of one of my husband's coworkers (who hates America by the way) how tolerant Germans are. How racist and intolerant we are. They sure don't practice what they preach apparently. Just more reasons as to why I look forward to the realignment and hopefully the Big Red One coming on home to Fort Riley.

Posted by: Shannon at April 20, 2004 03:48 AM (Bod3i)

2 I doubt your friend will find Spain any better anymore. I don't know what it will take to wake Europe up - Madrid train bombings seemed to act like a sedative rather than the stimulant one would have expected. But it better wake up soon, or it may be looking back at Hitler as an 'enlightened liberal'. A few leaders (Blair, Berlusconni, Aznar, and probably Putin, though silently) 'get it', but the people don't. Very reminiscent of the 1930's when no one would listen to Churchill, preferring Chamberlain's stand. Too often we hear what we wish to hear.

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