A trait that has become all too prevalent in America is arrogance. When I was a young mid-1960’s soldier stationed in Europe, it was common among my fellow Intelligence mates to share that we could all identify Americans walking down the street two blocks away.
Their pretentious strut among the unobtrusive Europeans was so obvious: their “I am somebody” aura projected with haughty, imperial defiance. I still find it in the unlikeliest quarters. Recently I emailed a local organization to remind them that one of their members and I had discussed a marketing idea, and would someone please phone me about it.
The email I received back loftily responded that the matter might need to be passed by their “extremely busy person” to determine to he could make time for the matter. The sender herself announced this in a voice conveying she was too occupied to be bothered.
It baffles me how self-absorbed so many are with their positions and titles. Is it not simply a person’s job, someone in a position of authority, to listen to others and courteously ascertain their interest, their intent, and assist them? Apparently that is not how many see it in the frigid, detached American digital age.
Where does such Donald Trump arrogance come from? He’s not the originator, of it course; but is a prime example: his chin jutting upwards into the air, his squinty, “I- see-you-who-do-you-think-you-are-that-you-dare-talk-to-me?” His disapproving look of vainglorious self-importance, rather frequently an American identifier.
That many people consider this a sign of superiority, of competence, of leadership confounds me. They only sparingly deem humility an exemplary character trait any longer. Or did they ever? I’m not sure. But the opposite certainly pops up a bit.
Is it really a feeling of inferiority they mask with such profound bravado? That may be it. Perhaps with their mere 250+ years of official existence, some Americans are not yet sure who they are. Perhaps they only feel confident when exhibiting the aggressive behavior so common among so many corporate and some stuffy political elite.
Even the Parisian French, known for their “hauteur,” exhibit their disdain with a sly twinkle in their eye, a disguised: “I’m just waiting to see if you will confront me about my mild arrogance to help us establish a rapport that means we won’t bore each other.”
Not so us. We’ve not gotten ourselves so far socially. I believe we consider ourselves too important for our own good. Gradually, I’ve been considering a long-term visa in France or Spain, to reinvestigate the European courtesy and savoir faire I appreciated when I lived there, and briefly visited four years ago.
“Good riddance,” I know my philosophical adversaries will declare. But, I bet when I spend a year in Pars, and one in Barcelona or Florence, and also check my ancestor’s homelands, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England, I may pick up a pointer or two worth emulating. At least, it’ll be a change. After two years in Monterey, I admit I’m getting itchy to travel again.
And let me be candid about the presidential bid: even Rachel Maddow ignores it. So, unless by some miracle I am put in office by a wildly disgruntled electorate, or – if I am – after straightening things out in one term, that’s when I’ll head East to Europe for that satisfying experience.
One thing I bet will happen if I do rent an apartment in Paris for a year is that some of my fiercely independent-thinking readers may ask to visit. And that will surely be fine. Long chats over coffee or wine at one of the thousands of outdoor cafes along the Seine? Now, that is really appealing.