I admit I have a soft spot for France and the French people. I had an absolutely wonderful visit to France a few years ago and have vowed to see France again as soon and often as possible. Paris is a beautiful, magical city from the underground Metro to the Arc d'Triomphe to the Royale with cheese. I can talk about France endlessly.
French people are another subject. As lame as my French was, everyone I met appreciated the fact that attempted to "parle français".. As an American, I tried to blend in, not stand out. One of the things I immediately noticed was that the French enjoy life and know how to live. We could certainly take lessons from them.
Yesterday 2.5 million French took to the streets to protest President Sarkozy's attempt to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. You would never ever see anything like that here and no, tea party rallies and million man marches don't count. As angry as we all get about political issues, you could never get 2.5 million Americans to protest about anything!
With our two party political system, you could never get us to agree about anything. because our political system is very divisive. (Don't believe me? Politicians constantly play up our differences for their own advantage, it's the "us vs. them" mentality: black vs. white, liberal vs. conservative, pro-choice vs. pro-life, straight vs. gay and everyone against the poor.) Americans are too damned selfish.
We certainly weren't angry enough to do anything when the government bailed out the banking industry. Sure, we conveniently blamed (pick one, all or fill-in-the blank) President Obama, W. or Barney Frank. Few of us were riled up over the fact that the gap between the haves and have-nots got a whole bunch wider while we were debating gay marriage. Even fewer of us realize that American companies that laid off the most workers paid their executives an average salary of $12 million a year and we still have gotten angry enough to protest.
Even in the worst economic depression of our lifetime, none of us are angry enough to take to the streets to decry the loss of jobs, the middle class or the fact that we are all one illness away from being bankrupt. Vive le français!