One of the more interesting aspects about living in both the US and the UK is seeing how both countries are so different philosophically. I think in America most of us have inherited that Protestant work ethic; that every person should try to work hard in order to succeed in life. People still believe in the American dream; that someone who is a janitor’s son can one day grow up and go to Harvard, that an immigrant with nothing can soon have a big house in the suburbs, a flat screen TV and an SUV along with everyone else. Although I must say, this has dissipated a lot under our current economic woes it still flows through our blood. Republicans rant and rave about big government and how poor people are bleeding the public, but we can’t disprove this American dream regardless of how much of a ‘fantasy’ it may be.
In the UK, they don’t have the concept of the ‘American dream’ but they do believe that each person has rights that should be provided to them, like medical, social and job help to those who need it. Although again there’s a lot of hatred towards “immigrants” that come in and try to take advantage of those rights, they still have a completely different idea of what their state should be. It’s rather fascinating that every person here has access to healthcare no matter what, that each area has a job center which does everything in its power to help get people work (including tweeting new jobs on an hourly basis), and that workers have a lot more fundamental rights from their employers.
As an American it kind of feels nice to have that ‘safety net’ of the state there. It’s nice to think if I get very sick or lose my job, I won’t lose everything to medical costs or be on the street dying and that someone will be there to help me. The only problem is the very rigid race and class lines in British society tend to ruin the niceties of living here. London is sooo multi-ethnic and cultural and incredibly beautiful, but there is just no shared society here, no ‘friendliness’, no culture of progressiveness. I say this as a foreigner coming in, of course, but when Europeans lament over how foreigners (and especially Mozlims) can’t integrate, they’re not kidding. They just can’t integrate even if they wanted to. It just does not have the ‘melting pot’ American history and culture. Part of it is big city living, everyone out to survive in the urban jungle, but part of it is fundamental racist and classist history. There are no suburbs because it is too expensive and too racist to move out!
I’ll be honest, unless they fix this, their country is just not going to survive in the world. Their society will always be divided and conflicted. The riots last year showed definite deep problems here but seem to have been glossed over. Thirty years ago my father made the decision of the US over the UK solely because of that reason. Can you even fix hundreds of years of colonial thought and manifest destiny? I guess it remains to be seen!
PS. Hope this doesn’t offend any UKers here! Still trying to figure out your country and it does have a lot to offer ;D