Who are lazier Indians or Americans
They despise technology, they love fear, they spurn freedom: what distinguishes Germans from Americans
I tried my luck as a German comedian in the United States for a year. Fortunately, quite successfully. Because the Americans like the Germans. The opposite cannot really be said.
The relationship between us Germans and America has always been contradictory. On the one hand we consider the Americans to be culturally and educationally distant cowboys, on the other hand we admire the myth of the American Dream.
We love stories like Bill Gates who started Microsoft in a small garage. Or that of Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poor circumstances and rose to be a talk show queen. Or, sometimes, that of Donald Trump, who allegedly started a real estate company with only $ 200 million in start-up capital from his father.
When I moved to Manhattan for a year in July 2019 to perform as a German cabaret artist in stand-up clubs, it was precisely this myth of the American Dream that appealed to me: You come to New York with only one dollar in your pocket. But you won't let yourself get down there and work so hard that after a short time you have made a small fortune. I, on the other hand, came to New York with a small fortune and after a short time I have - but well, let's leave that.
In America you can also fall deep. Donald Trump was in the eighties the New York real estate mogul, and today he has to live in a state-paid house. From the Trump Tower to a council flat. It can go that fast.
The German risk aversion and the German fully comprehensive mentality are in stark contrast to the American way of life. To put it bluntly, the American dream is a German nightmare. We are probably the only nation that leaves the seat belt on in the drive-in theater.
Just no technical progress!
This attitude is widespread even among many young Germans. According to a study by the consulting firm Ernst & Young, forty percent of students in our country are flirting with a job in the public sector. Founder mentality, daring and optimism for the future are not German core virtues. One would rather manage than design.
The fear of making mistakes is actually a large part of our cultural DNA. There is no industrial nation in the world that is more afraid of stem cell research, genetic engineering or nuclear energy than we, the former engineering nation.
Americans are proud when they achieve something. We Germans are proud when we can prevent something: nuclear and coal-fired power plants, Transrapids and TTIP. The implementation of a diesel driving ban is celebrated in this country like a second moon landing. If you say no, the German skeptic will fall into downright euphoric delight!
The Americans have even adopted a German word for our nonsense: the German angst. That is why the two most typical German inventions are the “fun brake” and the “travel cancellation insurance”. The German books an adventure vacation to the cannibals in South America - but by no means without travel cancellation insurance. Otherwise the whole thing would be far too risky.
When we really manage to do something big, we are almost a little embarrassed. Soccer world champion? Yes, but after that it went downhill as you know! World export champion? Okay, but at the expense of the Third World! A German Nobel Prize Winner? Well, the idea was in the air anyway.
It almost seems as if we Germans are downright in love with failure. We are so fascinated by our problems that we actually find it a shame to solve them.
In the USA, on the other hand, there is a consistently optimistic attitude. Did you know that the Chinese fortune cookies that are brought in many restaurants after dinner did not originate in China, but only around a hundred years ago in America? Chinese restaurant operators in San Francisco realized that Americans were keen to see goodbye with an optimistic message after dinner. "Every day is a gift. Use it! "
I always imagined what it would be like if something like this had been invented in Germany. The scene in my mind's eye: You break open a meat loaf and find the saying: "Don't reach for the stars, you won't make it anyway!"
Just no individualism!
America was built on the idea of individualism. On the principle of the inalienable rights of the individual. A country where people were free to make their fortunes, to get ahead, not to give up and to achieve something through performance.
The pioneers and adventurers of the Wild West regarded their personal self-esteem as the greatest good. Believing that no one is entitled to even a minute of their lives. No matter who makes this claim. America’s film heroes are therefore often characters who take the law into their own hands: Charles Bronson in “A Man Sees Red”, Clint Eastwood in “Grand Torino” or Sylvester Stallone in “Rambo”.
For us Germans, this defiant desire for freedom is difficult to understand. The liberal idea is a marginal phenomenon with us. For a freedom-loving American, even the basic program of the FDP is close to socialism. With us, everything is regulated by law when in doubt. There are even state authorities for innovation in Germany. These are about as compatible with each other as a golden wedding with Gerhard Schröder.
I read in an American magazine that more than two million US citizens seriously believe that their tattoos have made them smarter. If they had found out about us, the Ministry of Education would immediately convene a committee to discuss subsidizing tattoo studios in order to raise the level of intelligence among Germans. Oh, Germany.
Just no subjunctive!
Shortly before Christmas, my parents visited me in New York because they wanted to see whether the boy was actually making his fortune abroad. They watched a comedy show of mine even though they don't speak a word of English. Unfortunately, things didn't go very well that evening. Then I went to them and said contrite: "Mom, Dad, it didn't go well tonight." But my father took me aside and said: «Boy, that was your impression of the stage. It was much worse in the audience. "
But Americans always give you a second chance. After the show, the American says: “Great job. Thank you!" As soon as a German was in the audience, I could be sure that he would arrive afterwards: "Well, Mr. Ebert, I didn't understand everything, but at minute 17 you mistakenly used the subjunctive in a conditional sentence I."
What do the sober numbers say about the American dream? Actually is America the land of opportunity? In other words, what is the likelihood that you as an American will make it into the top twenty percent in terms of income if you are born into a family that is among the twenty percent of the poorest?
Analyzes show: The USA comes off significantly worse than many European countries. If you go from dishwasher to millionaire in America, it is often only because you scalded your hand washing the dishes and sued your employer for thirty-five million dollars.
Of course, many Americans are aware that the American Dream is a myth that often does not come true. Especially during the corona pandemic. But even though the societal and social problems in the United States are greater than in our country, Americans are nonetheless more optimistic. The pursuit of happiness - the pursuit of happiness - is even in the declaration of independence. It is, so to speak, the duty of every American to be happy.
If NASA found out that in a fortnight a giant meteorite hits the earth and destroys all life, the typical American would say: «Fuck it! We'll shoot it! " We're getting that thing down. With us, on the other hand, all newspapers would headline: "Apocalypse in two weeks - Germany is hit hardest!"
And then the question of all questions: Have you already thought about travel cancellation insurance?
Vince Ebert is a physicist and cabaret artist. His new book “Broadway instead of Jakobsweg. Decelerating in a different way »appeared.
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