I’d like to offer a comparison

This is based on my observation only, but I’ve noticed a difference between the style of news reporting in the UK and the US, and it might explain why America thinks it’s not so great and needs Trump.

In the UK the BBC, in particular, is very fond of comparative reporting.  Headlines are made when reports comparing EU countries, or global statistics, are released.  For instance ‘Brits are more obese than the French’ or ‘The Scots are in more personal debt than the Germans’ are commonly seen (by the way I’ve no idea if these are true, I’ve just made them up for illustration).   The result is that we Brits are pretty clear about where we stand in the world, what we’re good at (healthcare) and what we’re bad at (obesity, say).

In the US however, this style of reporting seems nonexistent.  There are no headlines about how the US compares to different countries; most Americans I’ve met seem to think every country has a gun problem! Perhaps more peculiarly, headlines aren’t made either about how different states compare to each other.

Could this go some way to explain why America doesn’t think it’s so great when actually it is (except for guns and healthcare, obesity, oops there’s more than I thought) and hence why Trump makes such traction with his promise to ‘Make America great again’.  America is actually great in many ways.  What precisely is Trump on about?  And what do Americans feel they’re not great at?

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Patriotism but no Solidarity

One of the themes that I think might recur on this blog and to which I don’t have an answer to yet, is to do with my observations of American people whilst living here in the US (I am British and have lived here for one year).

Patriotism is extremely high in the US, there are flags everywhere, my children swear allegiance to the flag every morning at school and many churches display the American flag next to the cross.  Yet, despite this and what I can’t explain, is that solidarity among Americans is very low.  You see it in their attitude to inequality, which is incredibly high, and how they generally want the the lowest possible taxes.  I have never heard anyone speak in favour of using taxes to address inequality.  Similarly, the idea of them curbing their lifestyle in order to reduce their carbon footprint – for the sake of others – is never mentioned.  I do all sorts of things to reduce my carbon footprint, drive a small car, use my own bags, not using a tumble dryer, and so forth, but I have almost never heard an American Christian mention these, let alone do them.

I am far from perfect, and I know many people in Britain that do far more than me to act in solidarity and for others, but I think it is fair to say that in general British people have a far higher sense of solidarity with each other, and with people across the globe, than Americans do.

There is a famous quote about American churches, that describes Sunday morning as the most segregated part of the week since whites, blacks, latinos, etc all worship separately.  Clearly then the church is not a source of solidarity either in America.

I would love to understand why solidarity and fraternity are missing.  I can think of one chapter written by David Hulme, a leading International Development specialist, who believes that Comic Relief has had an enormous impact on the way British people think about and have compassion for the rest of the world.  I am incredibly proud, as a British person, that the first Comic Relief was held in the USA this year – it is one of our best exports.

I don’t think that alone explains the lack of solidarity, especially in light of the high patriotism, that there is in the US.  Any ideas anyone?