Back From Louisiana

My latest blog entry

Back From Louisiana

We have this fountain at church.

(This isn’t a non sequitur - wait for it.)

One of the ideas around this fountain is that congregants are encouraged to bring water back with them from their travels to add to the water already there; sort of a symbol of universality since, once added, the water can no longer be separated out.

My business in Louisiana took me to Grand Isle - about 50 miles South of New Orleans (as the crow flies) sitting on the Northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico - and I decided to fetch some ‘Gulf of Mexico’ water to add to the fountain. I parked my rental car close to the beach, took an empty water bottle with me, and walked to the waterline but the water was too shallow within arm’s reach. I was just contemplating the logistics of removing my dress shoes and socks, rolling up my pant legs and wading out without benefit of a towel when a man with a Texas accent who was enjoying the beach with his family saw my predicament and offered to fetch some water for me. Nice man.

I explained why I wanted the water but either he couldn’t understand my Canadian accent or didn’t get the concept because he handed the bottle of water to me with an admonition: "Don’t drink this now or it’ll kill ya."

I love Americans. That’s not sarcasm - I really do.

Sure, you could read a certain arrogance behind the assumption that I needed to be told not to drink salt water; but that’s not what I focus on. The fact is that he volunteered to help me and, having done so, felt a responsibility toward my welfare.

At the risk of thinking in stereotypes, I do think that is typical of Americans and I think it often gets misunderstood. In their position of power (and hey, they are the most powerful nation on Earth) they have helped virtually every other country and it causes them to feel a sense of responsibility that may be mistaken for arrogance or even condescension. Really it isn’t; it’s genuine caring.

But when it is mistaken for arrogance or condescension, I suspect that many Americans feel unappreciated for the truly massive amounts of money, effort and time they expend for the sake of other nations. And they really do expend a great deal for others; I don’t have hard numbers to quote but it is obvious that America expends more money, time and effort for other countries than any five other countries combined - no matter how you want to measure it.

We in the rest of the world often accuse America of failing to look at things from our point of view and there may be some truth behind that accusation. But if the rest of the world could just occasionally try to look at things from the American point of view maybe we would begin to realize that America is neither arrogant nor condescending but deeply caring.

It is a cultural characteristic of Americans that they care. And because they care, they help. And when they help, they feel responsible.

Maybe it’s time we in the rest of the world tried to be a little bit sensitive to America’s culture since we are always demanding that they be sensitive to ours.

Post located here - http://bilclarke.blogspot.com/2006/07/back-from-louisiana.html

Quote (BillClarke @ July 22 2006,16:18)
...he volunteered to help me and, having done so, felt a responsibility toward my welfare.

Adds up nicely with my admittedly meager experience. Put bluntly, the people are a lot nicer than the country, if you get my drift :)

Now, Bill, what was that thing I kept hearing on AM radio from CKLW in the 1970s, “The Americans” ? :)

At least Cheney’s thuggish attempts at creating a pax Americana don’t seem to be panning out. As the USA takes its place with other has-been powers over the next generation or two, it’ll be consolation to keep this in mind. :)

teryeah - in my experience (which is not meagre) Americans are the salt of the Earth. In a scrap there is no one I’d rather have on my side than a couple of Yanks.

Tom - I think you are referring to an editorial that CFRB commentator Gordon Sinclair made in the sixties (I think) that was subsequently released as a 45.

Whenever it was, I agreed with it when I first heard it and I agree with it now.

I, for one, try not to judge Americans by their leaders but rather by the people themselves whom I have always found to be generous, caring, and decent. Not all, of course, but a remarkable majority.

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I, for one, try not to judge Americans by their leaders


Thanks Bill. You are right. Not all Americans are psychotic.

D

Quote (BillClarke @ July 22 2006,20:57)
Tom - I think you are referring to an editorial that CFRB commentator Gordon Sinclair made in the sixties (I think) that was subsequently released as a 45.

Whenever it was, I agreed with it when I first heard it and I agree with it now.

My bad Tom - it was 1973. There’s a copy available here - The Americans

Thanks Bill, that’s a really nice thing to say. I guess I take it for granted that people all over the world are caring and giving people. Is that not the case? Don’t most people when confronted with a person needing obvious help, step in and do so?

Please say yes… I guess i just want to believe that most people care about their fellow man or woman…

:)

Bill that was nice…

Here’s an American story I have for you.

We are on our way back from work and our first stop is in a town called Watson Lake. The town is basically a gas stop and service center for tourists who are travelling to the Yukon or Alaska via British Columbia.

I end up getting out of the van to buy some munchies for the remaining trip and sneak in a quick smoke when this huge RV pulls up and a man dressed in yellow shorts, with a woven cowboy hat, and a shirt saying “I got layed in Hawaii” comes up to me and strikes up a conversation.

In a thick southern drawl he say, “Do you fellas get lots of bears in these parts.” I explained that grizzly bear was pretty common in the area, then he asked me, “is there a Walmart in this town?” “I would like to buy some ammunition just in case, ya know what I mean, ya never know if your gonna meet face to face with one.” I kinda laughed a bit and wondered how the guy could get a gun accross the border so I explained to him the only Walmart in the Yukon was in Whitehorse and that was another four or five hour drive.

We all got back in the crew van and got a chuckle out of this guy and he became the topic of converstaion with his guns and requests untill finally a guy on the van says, "Stu that guy wasn;t looking for a Walmart to buy bullets, he was looking for a place to camp."

Anyway true story, and I might be the only one who finds it funny. The little town I live in is a tourist center too and I have met several tourists from the US at our local bar. I have yet to meet an American in my travels that I didn’t like. Some of the best times I’ve had at our local bar was with Americans from the deep south. I find them as friendly as people from maritime Canada. Very caring, hospitable people who treat you like part of the family.

Quote (DrGuitar @ July 23 2006,02:41)
Thanks Bill, that’s a really nice thing to say. I guess I take it for granted that people all over the world are caring and giving people. Is that not the case? Don’t most people when confronted with a person needing obvious help, step in and do so?

Please say yes… I guess i just want to believe that most people care about their fellow man or woman…

DrG,

Although I believe that generally most people are caring, I was really noting the cultural characteristic of taking responsibility for those helped that is almost uniquely American.

An Englishman or a Canuck will gladly give directions to a stranger but a Yank will offer to drive him to his destination to make sure he gets there!

(An overstatement? No - it’s happened to me.)

The generosity of Americans is so large that those unfamiliar with it can mistake it for something else - like a desire for control or an assumption of inability in the other person.

It can be difficult for some to accept that Americans are just ‘that way’ and don’t necessarily have an ulterior motive for their largess.
Quote (StuH @ July 23 2006,04:13)
...I have yet to meet an American in my travels that I didn't like. Some of the best times I've had at our local bar was with Americans from the deep south. I find them as friendly as people from maritime Canada. Very caring, hospitable people who treat you like part of the family...

Perfectly matches my experiences, too - particularly when I've been in the States and they discover that I'm a Canuck.

Gordon Sinclair - that’s the recording! Wikipedia tells me sinclair was 73 when the record made top 40 on Billboard - there’s hope for some of us yet! :)

Actually, it was Byron MacGregor’s version I heard - he was a CKLW (Windsor AM giant) reporter. That version went to #4!


Personally, I have met a whole lot of Canadians who are just good people. Like my wife and her family! :)

And Don Cherry! :D

I have a lot of Canadian friends from Alberta. All are polite, good natured and fun to hang with. Hide your wallet, women and booze and you’ll get along fine. :p

Quote (KingFish @ July 23 2006,15:34)
...Canadian friends from Alberta.... are polite, good natured and fun to hang with. Hide your wallet, women and booze and you'll get along fine.

Not just Alberta - that's good advice when partying with Canadians from any Province.

For some reason a song from Southpark is coming to mind…

I believe “Blame Canada” was the title.

Anyway, nice stories guys as usual. I haven’t stopped visiting, just practicing further meditation on my quest to let my words be few.

keep shinin’ in His Peace,

jerm :cool:

Quote (jeremysdemo @ July 23 2006,18:47)
I believe “Blame Canada” was the title.

"It isn’t a real country anyway…"

But despite that movie, I do think the top of my head is connected to the bottom of my head.

Yep never been much of a South Park fan myself. But I do like some of the music scores…“common people now people now.” “Drive hybrids people now” tee hee

Hey I have always been amazed at the music that comes out of Canada.
There was a guy or group of two guys in the 80’s called SNOW.
This was like World Beat music, and the singer rapped and sang like a Jamaican.
That album still baffles me to this day. The music on it is timeless and holds it’s own with guys like Sawn Paul even to this day…
I mean you guys did give us Celine Dion, but hey I don’t hold it against ya! :laugh:
I really don’t think she’s that bad of a singer, but the music itself is just to flighty for my taste. I mean talk about trying to hard to be over spiritual and inspirational. Stuff like that just can’t be forced or contrived, it’s either genuine or it ain’t.
Personally I love Canada, how else without a boat or plain would I get to Alaska? ??? :p

champain wishes and Eskimo dreams there Bill,

jerm :cool:

I just wonder what this guy with the “Texas accent” thought of the foreign tourist who wanted to put sea water into a drinking bottle. A warning seems rather appropriate and not necessarily an indicator of American culture.

Quote (ksdb @ July 24 2006,12:16)
I just wonder what this guy with the “Texas accent” thought of the foreign tourist who wanted to put sea water into a drinking bottle. A warning seems rather appropriate and not necessarily an indicator of American culture.

Like I said, I explained the reason for it to him and I really don’t think he failed to understand me - yet he apparently still felt some responsibility for me. I thought it was nice.

You can view it anyway you like; I found it sufficiently consistent with a tendency that I’ve noted before among your countrymen to feel comfortable chalking it up to a cultural characteristic.

I’ll be in Dallas/Fort Worth next week - it’ll be interesting to see if I detect any other instances.