Public life is always a hoot…
People of sound mind and reasonable judgment in their personal lives take on characters full of unwarranted confidence and intolerant insistence in public.
The couple whose son has a “drug problem” wants the government to start a nationwide treatment program.
The guy who can’t get his town sanitation department to pick up the trash in front of his house wants to clean up a government on the other side of the world.
The woman who is not sure she will need an umbrella is convinced the planet is warming up.
It’s always easier to solve someone else’s problem than your own. That’s one of the great advantages of living overseas: Public life is full of other people’s problems.
Imagine if a group of Americans proposed to abolish the First Amendment, take away your favorite monuments, or introduce devil worship at your church.
You would be outraged.
But when similar outrages happen in a foreign language… they are mostly amusing and puzzling.
The show is a comedy, not a tragedy. As our friend Nassim Taleb puts it, we have no “skin in the game.”
Overseas, we lack the cues, the context, and the emotional connections to take them seriously.
We read the headlines; we shake our heads and smile. The local myths and mysteries have no power over us.
So it was that when a group of leftist demonstrators marched through Salta (Argentina) recently, we didn’t know what to make of it.
“What was that all about?” we asked.
Meanwhile, scuffles broke out in New Orleans. On one side were demonstrators eager to pull down the statues of war heroes Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard. On the other side, demonstrators were there to protect them.