For the last two weeks I had the privilege of traveling to France for vacation. I spent a week with friends in Toulouse, and a week at the Taize community. I learned a lot. I experienced a lot. And now I try to process a lot of what went on these past two weeks. Here’s the thing: I’m not going to do it all here. The reality is that it takes days, weeks, months, years to fully process such an experience.
I want to share my experiences of the French culture, and how they differ from that of the American culture. Recently I came across a statement that talked about the difference. The French ‘work to live,’ and Americans ‘live to work.’ REALLY? How did we get this end of the stick? The unfortunate thing is that I find it to be the truth. I know too many people who are working more than 40 hours a week, with little vacation. The French: ~35 hours a week, and most with at least 5 weeks of holiday a year.We can learn a lot.
One of the questions people asked me was ‘how are Americans so obese?’ I told them I think it’s the McDonalds. The French for the most part are pretty fit. I attribute it to eating healthier, less stress, smaller portions, and a healthier general lifestyle. We can learn a lot.
On the whole, I think people live differently for a lot of different reasons; one of which is also the availability of resources. Another is the sheer mass of people we live amongst. France…and the rest of the world, seem to be on a smaller scale than America. Smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller food, smaller people. It’s almost as if they acknowledge that they have to share this world with everyone else. We can learn a lot.
I write these things not because I want to rip into American culture, but these are things that I really appreciate about our neighbors to the East.
…and now for a brief note of rejection concerning American culture. Please keep in mind this list has been building for a while now; it just seems a propos:)
- I reject American giant…everything. We don’t need it! We don’t need SUVs to drive children around town. We don’t need super-sized meals. We don’t need homes with more rooms than family members.
- I reject American consumerism. I’m not going to buy a new car just because everyone else has one. I don’t need make my home look like a magazine cover. I don’t need to buy more clothes if I’m happy with what I have.
- I reject American religion (I had to fit religion in here somehow:). It kind of fits into the previous two points, but I don’t need a mega church where I can ‘consume’ God. My religion is not aligned with a political party. I do not assume superiority over others because America is a ‘Christian’ nation.
Things I really love, and missed, about American culture…
- American sports
- American women
- American music
- American food
- American television
- American fashion
- American diversity
Is this post hypocritical enough yet?:)