It’s been a nice three weeks overseas, and as I prepare to return home, I find myself hoping I can pull it off again in a few years’ time. Europe’s a great place to visit, and I’d definitely recommend it to Americans who want to get away from the insanity of American life for a while. If you’re on a budget, it definitely helps to have friends overseas; without this advantage I wouldn’t have even thought about making the trip.
Life is a bit easier and slower in Europe. Work is not all-consuming, and people have a more relaxed attitude toward life. As an American, I have to admit I found that very frustrating at first, but then I just decided there’s no point in fighting it and went along with it.
The US is a great place with a lot of opportunity, but from the outside there’s a lot about it that doesn’t look so great. The pressure on ordinary people is enormous, the racial and sexual tension is oppressive, and the rat race exhausting. Furthermore, the amount of bureaucratic control over people’s lives is a lot higher than in Europe, as far as I can tell. We often point to Europe as an example of a bureaucratic socialist purgatory, but somehow the stakes don’t seem quite so high as in the US, and the coercion is not nearly as severe.
I suppose one could point to the US as a place where there’s both more risk and more reward. The day to day lives of ordinary Americans may not be much if any better, but the greater opportunities give Americans high hopes and aspirations. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that the steady erosion of personal freedoms is slowly eliminating the clear advantage we once had. There’s also an undercurrent of hostility and a certain inhumanity inherent in our political atmosphere. For example, the idea of jailing fathers for poverty is considered absurd and inhumane here. Incarceration is far less common, yet violent crime is a shadow of what it is in the US. There is no overarching police state here, yet relations between people on the street seem more relaxed and less contentious.
Looking back on my home before I return, I feel a bit of apprehension about the future. I don’t know what direction we’ll take in the US, but where we’re headed is not promising. Over my lifetime, I’ve only seen our society grow harsher and more totalitarian as well as ideologically more strident and divided. This has not let up for my entire life, and if it continues I can’t see the US being a very pleasant place to live. Although I really don’t want to do this, I’m getting closer to the point of recommending that people who can do so – young men in particular – leave.
It saddens me to say it, but for young American men with some skill and talent, there are probably greener pastures elsewhere, and far fewer risks. If you want a family, the US is probably one of the most dangerous places in the world for a man to get married and have children. Additionally, you will not face affirmative action discrimination outside of the US as a white male, and your chances of arrest and imprisonment (or becoming a victim of violent crime) are lower if you are black or Hispanic. While it might not be as easy to become a billionaire in another country, it’s much much harder to have your life destroyed by a woman, and that’s a far likelier scenario. As great and glorious a place as the US is, the truth is that it treats its young men like absolute garbage, and in many cases they’d be far safer, and ultimately healthier, spending their young, productive years in places where they can’t be so easily robbed and dispossessed. As an added bonus, English is becoming the lingua franca of the developed world, and American men are considered desirable partners around the world.
Sometimes you can get a clearer view from the outside looking in, and this trip has given me a depressing perspective on my homeland. I’m going to be stuck in the US for some time, as my children need a home there for some years to come, but it looks more like a sacrifice than a privilege at this point. How sad to see what’s happened to my country.