I saw the second part of Who Wrote the Bible? on Compass last night. It was even less surprising than the first part, except that there was this frighteningly certain Southern Baptist named Richard Land — that is a PBS interview — who was deep into circular argument as all fundamentalists are, even more so than most, but the scary thing is how close he has been to George Bush.
Meanwhile in today’s Sydney Morning Herald we see the US State Department has done something sensible: A quiet word to loud Americans.
Under a program starting next month, several big US companies will give employees going abroad a “world citizen’s guide” featuring 16 etiquette tips on how they can help improve their country’s battered international image.
From the guidelines:
Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller In many countries, any form of boasting is considered very rude. Talking about wealth, power or status – corporate or personal – can create resentment.
Listen at least as much as you talk By all means, talk about America and your life in our country. But also ask people you’re visiting about themselves and their way of life.
Save the lectures for your kids Whatever your subject of discussion, let it be a discussion not a lecture. Justified or not, the US is seen as imposing its will on the world.
Think a little locally Try to find a few topics that are important in the local popular culture. Remember, most people in the world have little or no interest in the World Series or the Super Bowl. What we call “soccer” is football everywhere else. And it’s the most popular sport on the planet.
Slow down We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.
Speak lower and slower A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive.
Your religion is your religion and not necessarily theirs Religion is usually considered deeply personal, not a subject for public discussions.
If you talk politics, talk – don’t argue Steer clear of arguments about American politics, even if someone is attacking US politicians or policies. Agree to disagree.
That is such good advice; I can tick off almost every point there as something which annoys me about many Americans — not all, of course — and I am in the “52nd State”, as we sometimes despairingly call our country.