After my trip abroad, I thought it important to analyze in retrospect the differences between the U.S. and the UK. In this post and the next, I submit five ideas, concepts or things that each country should take from each other.
1. Reuse, renovate what exists.
What Europeans do best is reusing what they have and making it better. For example, most of their houses are older than the United States itself, but instead of tearing down and building new infrastructure, using what exists seems to be ok. This might have to do with the long history of these countries or just to save money. I feel like Americans desire to build new, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it creates jobs and adds to the economy. The thing that bothers me about the U.S. is the amount of waste. If you have a functional toaster, for example, why buy a brand new toaster just to have something new? I mean, it is a toaster after all! One thing we can take from Europeans is their ability to create legacies, not start afresh.
2. Remove religion from the spotlight.
In America, I’ve realized that religion is a “cop-out” for any situation that the nation faces. Issues like abortion, gay marriage and religion in politics have never appeared to be an issue in Britain because religion is a personal part of someone’s life. It is quite rude to ask someone about their beliefs, or rather uncommon. If we removed religion from politics, social issues and our nation’s problems, we could get a lot more done. Why aren’t we focusing more on education instead of whining about abortion, Governor Brownback? Also, who are we to say who gets to love one another? Why does it matter what religion Obama is? Overall, I think religion has plagued the U.S. in electing qualified officials and moving forward with issues that actually matter.
3. Install national pride.
Fortunately Britain doesn’t equate its flag and national pride with its political situation. During my time abroad, it was common to see locals wearing flag shirts, flying it at their houses and using it as a symbol of pride. Stereotypically in America, the flag is seen as a symbol, yes, but when people wear it or when it is flown at a residence, it seems trashy or Southern. “Made in Britain” is seen as quality local products. The U.S. should create new jobs and products that carry “Made in USA” and rejuvenate its national pride.
4. Travel to become well-rounded.
My coworkers in the UK found it comical that most Americans do not even own a passport. But if you think about it, our country is huge! We have beaches, mountains, hiking, surfing, snow, cold, hot, farming and urban. So, it does make sense for many Americans to never leave the country’s borders in their lifetimes. Brits, however, do have the opportunity to travel thanks to their proximity to many other small, but distinctly cultural, countries. My challenge to Americans is to get a passport and take a trip abroad. This will expand yourcomfort with other races, cultures, religions and social situations. It’s good to get out of routine, so go ahead and book a trip abroad!
5. Enforce stricter food regulations.
The food in Britain is pretty similar to that of the U.S. in what you get in the store, but you’ll find the biggest difference on the label. Chocolate in Britain tastes and looks like chocolate. The ingredients are just a few, but if you look at chocolate in the U.S., the ingredient list takes up half of the packaging. Same with soda. In Britain, there’s no “Red 40” meaning coloring, or high fructose corn syrup. It uses real sugar and is more natural, and does not include all the artificial flavoring and coloring. The U.S. could remove lots of preservatives, unneeded ingredients and items used for shelf life. Let’s be more natural, even if food would last one month instead of one year. Also, support your local farmer’s market instead of buying produce from supermarkets. It puts money back into your community instead of into large corporations. Or, if you have the time and room, do some gardening! Nothing is more fulfilling than eating the food you produced. It’s cheaper and you know what it’s made of! My German family made a meal just from their garden and fields. Amazing!
These are just a few changes that could benefit the U.S. without changing it completely. Tune in for my next post about what the UK should take from the U.S.!