They are miles apart. The Atlantic Ocean is right between them. However, how much different are Germans and Americans actually? I do not want to focus much on politics or economics, but about the people. I was born and raised in Germany. I have relatives and friends in both countries. I love American TV shows and holidays, I am interested in the political situation in both countries, and I think Germans and Americans are more alike than it might appears.
(I want to point out, that this is just my opinion, based on the experiences I made. It can vary to your own.)
The beauty of globalization!?
Many people still dream of one united world, while many world leaders want to turn their nation into the only one triumphing. We all live on one single planet, but there is not one mindset, that is entirely right. Every person is unique. I mean, underneath the skin, we are alike. There is no difference between the X-ray of a black and a white man, a Christian and a Moslem. It is solely the feelings, and beliefs, which vary. What makes us so unique is not the skin color, but the emotions attached to it. Back in Stone Age, people were looking for those, who appeared similar to them. They were suspicious about aliens. They wanted to protect themselves. Still these days we are more likely to find friends and a partner who is like a beloved person. The chances that this relationship will last long, is by far higher than to someone who is quite the opposite.
That is the reason “the others” are often considered as the bad people. They can be the black ones, refugees, or belong to any other minority. Both countries fear losing their home to the minorities. Parties like the AFD, that is far right in Germany, arise unreasonable fear by ignoring the facts and creating vicious emotions. There are only two percent of refugees compared to the amount of Germans living in Germany. Therefore, it is unreasonable that the refugees will soon take over. The reaction to such, by statistics proven, facts is in both countries the same, when it does not fit to specific politicians’ opinions: in Germany, it is called “Luegenpresse” (lying press) and in the US, it is “fake news”.
However, what is a “real” German or American? The AFD considers everyone not German who does not look like one – to them. How is a typical German supposed to look like? That is a big issue, also in the US. Some people might have grandparents from different countries, but cannot relate much to it, because they were not born and raised there. I have a friend who is half Moroccan, but she has never been to that country. Her Mom lives in Germany, my friend was born and raised here. Germany is her home country. She is German. Unfortunately, many people tell her she is lying when she talks about her nationality.
Putting stereotypes into boxes
Facts are one thing, but they are meaningless when they do not appeal to the emotions, which can lead to illogical decisions. Why seeking for a potential enemy even in the own country? Why do we want to tear others down, instead of accepting a challenge and become better? When I was a college student, I had to do an interview with a former doctor who is nowadays doing comedy in Germany. His secretary refused using the words “he is a TV star now, he cannot do interviews with students.” He was just one of many people I figured out who think they are better than “freaking, stupid students”. In the US, it is different. I feel more support. Politicians and entrepreneurs are pleased giving interviews to students for infamous podcasts, magazines or blogs – not all of them, but there is a higher chance they answer questions than Germans. These people maybe remember how they once started, and are not thinking, “Now I am the famous guy and you better beg or pay lots of money to afford me.” I think the more money is on the table, the less happy people are for others. At least that is what I experienced in Germany. These rich people become some sort of a Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons. They think they cannot fail, nothing they do is questionable and who ever dares to, has to be the declared enemy.
When I was younger, I felt I was the only person with issues. Life seemed so easy for other people. They were smart and beautiful, and I was simply too stupid for it all. Now I have realized that many successful women, like actresses Melissa Benoist and Emma Stone, were dealing with anxieties and insecurities. It feels good to read about that, and to notice I am not the only one. It has always been hard for me to express feelings. As a teenager, I tried my best to refuse them. Emotions made me feel even more vulnerable. I did not want to give the other kids another thing to laugh at me, or talk behind my back, which I constantly felt they were doing. Listening to my friends and helping them is something I like, but I always feel like I cannot bother them with my crap, because they have enough to deal with. Even when they tell me, they are interested; I feel it hard to accept. I know they have problems, too, but I feel to be just excessively different and they would not understand, maybe even consider me crazy. Who am I to complain anyway? There are “real” problems out there, than me feeling like an alien.
Have you ever felt differently? Have you ever felt unaccepted for who you are? This could be because of your nationality, religion, ethnicity, or maybe your emotions. We all have them. They make us human. They make us the same, but also separate us. They make us vulnerable, but they also empower us. I think when everyone shares, instead of hiding or even refusing having feelings, insecurities and anxieties would not be such a big deal. Everyone has them. It is good to admit being imperfect, instead of laughing at others and pretending or not showing any issues. The minority is the majority. Instead of pointing fingers and catastrophizing, I wish for people to be more open about themselves, and about other people. Accepting others and focusing on the good, that is still in the majority and it is on us to keep it that way; that is the actual beauty of globalization.
Do not fear or hate those who are like you. Forget the box thinking, and allow everyone the freedom to embrace herself entirely. Put the obstacles from your thoughts aside, the differences that humankind created like nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Only then, we can maybe become what we already are: equally human beings.