Having had occasion in the last month — because I’m the one who speaks both languages — to mediate two bureaucracies of the same organization across two countries, I’m now convinced most people are not just bizarrely provincial. They’re unaware that the customs of their tribe are not a law of nature.
And people run on automatic with this, even when it doesn’t make any sense.
For instance, when I changed my name at citizenship, I didn’t know I was going to have to engage in a pissing contest over older son’s birth certificate.
You see, North Carolina has — or had 27 years ago — the sort of ridiculous paperwork for producing a birth certificate that would only occur to people who never gave two thoughts to how things are done elsewhere.
Instead of asking for the mother’s maiden name, it asked for mother’s maiden surname, and then drafted a birth certificate using that and the mother’s name.
My name at marriage was Alice Maria da Silva Marques de Almeida. But when I wrote my maiden surname was Almeida they proudly gave us a certificate saying Robert’s mother, when single, had been Sarah Almeida. Head>desk.
I tried to explain this was a massive problem, because if anything happens and they need to trace their ancestry and/or need to prove who I was before I was married/changed my name, it will read like fraud.
At which point they told me it was okay, because when you change your name, they go back and change your birth certificate. (Bangs head slowly on desk.)
I had to point out that, as far as the Portuguese government is concerned, I’m not even married yet. Because I’d have to pay a bazillion (more or less) dollars (okay, it was 4k and travel to places with a Portuguese consulate) to have that recognized in Portugal, and I’m just not that invested. Recognizing a name change from another country? not on at all. Hell, I’m not sure they do the birth certificate thing when you change your name in Portugal.
They eventually conceded and changed the certificate but it took forever and a day, and they kept insisting that of course my birth certificate had to be changed. That’s just the way things were done.
Let’s say what I’ve been battling is of the same order, if slightly more explainable.
This arrant provincialism penetrates everything. For instance, in conversation with my mom a few weeks ago she told me the doctors that treated me in childhood had no idea what the antibiotic doses were for a child, so they just gave me adult doses. Later I mentioned this in a party of family and friends, and they all told me it was impossible. All, of course, except the friend who has spent time abroad, dealing with their medicine, and who just nodded.
Because of this, politics at the international level is blind man’s bluff both ways.
Particularly since all the press is determinedly invested in misreporting and both ours and their sides tilt as left as possible.
A friend abroad assures me that in her country the people think that US anti-abortion protesters are troglodytes and religious fanatics (and also very few) but they don’t know that our abortion laws aren’t the same as theirs. I don’t remember if her country has an utter ban after 10 weeks, or 8 weeks, which they of course assume is exactly the same here. They don’t understand that if they were here and faced with actual attempts at legalizing post-birth infanticide they would, if they’re capable of morality at all, also be anti-abortion (and morally outraged.)
People in Europe, whose countries nationalized/socialized medicine shortly before or after WWII, solemnly tell us that it would be barbaric to just let medicine be private, and that they’d have people dying on the streets for lack of care… as we have.
They have absolutely no idea that our hospitals are bound by law to give care to anyone who comes in. It is in the best interest of their press which is by and large leftist to keep them uninformed and thinking that the alternative to their slow, sclerotic, biased system is “dying on the streets.”
And of course, they have no idea of how many innovations our medical system implements, that are unheard of in their countries.
Then people here hear how satisfied people abroad are with single payer, think it’s a great idea and we should have it here.
That’s not even counting the people who, during the cold war, kept telling me if Russia really were such a hell on Earth, surely people who lived there wouldn’t speak so well of it. The entire idea of suppression and fear meant nothing to them.
And let’s not get started on people who say things like “But it has to be that way. It’s like that here” because they think the way things happen — anything from finding a job to getting married — in their place is the only way they can happen anywhere.
I run into this more often than other people, of course, because of dealing with family on both sides. So I’m more aware of it than the average person.
So, what is this to people who dojn’t have family both sides?
Two things: first the globalization thing. The left still doesn’t understand why it doesn’t work, and the only reason they can figure out for us to oppose masses and masses of immigrants coming in is “racism.” Because they don’t understand how deep culture is, or how much it changes… everything, from work habits, to attitudes towards law and order, or learning, or innovation. To them culture is different attire and interesting food. And the only reason you could disapprove of those is that you are a vile racist, of course.
They honestly think giving pamphlets to Middle Eastern men in Germany telling them that rape is wrong, m’kay is going to change attitudes towards women that have been taught and propagated for centuries. Because of course, culture doesn’t mean anything.
I don’t, btw, understand how they correlate this with their belief that culture is genetic and can’t be changed, but then, you know, if they were consistent they’d also have to explain how the sexes are exactly the same except for reproductive organs, meaning they think and feel exactly the same, and yet it’s worth it to go through massive surgery because you feel like the other sex inside. Or how saying that people start diverging by sex while in the womb is “transphobic.” (After all why change if you’re already the same. Pfui.)
But this ignorant provincialism is why the left thinks that they can just bring people from everywhere here and nothing of significance will change except they’ll be more progressive by nature because neo-Marxism, through the person of Gramsci, told them so.
Second thing is that as communications bring our world ever closer, and enmesh various cultures into work groups and companies, more and more as tech gets better, the cultural clashes and the assumptions that blow up in people’s faces are going to be spectacular.
And only being aware of the differences will allow people to survive.
Paradoxically, better communication will bring the world closer and further apart, and might perhaps for once and all put paid to the idea that nationalism is meaningless or dead.
Interesting times ahead.