"Travel is good.".That should be the slogan of ailing airlines, because it's absolutely true.
We learn amazing things by getting out into the world and literally by rubbing elbows with our neighbors on this baby blue planet of ours.I just came back from my first trip to Italy, and while I have been to Britain many times and to France and to some of our close neighbors such as Canada and Mexico, this excursion did more to open my eyes than any prior one.Perhaps the most significant thing I saw is what appears to be the high standard of living over there. People are well dressed, much more stylishly I might note, than we are, on average.
They look healthy, generally benefiting from some sort of universal health coverage and easier access to health care services.And they're spending money, significant amounts of it, having vacations of their own, and patronizing the generally upscale shops and restaurants I saw along the way.There are some other things I noticed.
Most shopkeepers and innkeepers are "clean-freaks," constantly tidying up from the time they open until closing. Brooms are everywhere, maid service at 8:30 in the morning is unavoidable, and you're almost forced to finish your meals so various items can be removed from your table.Beaches are spotless, rows of lounges are perfectly symmetrical, and every service worker seems to have a supervisor watching over him.
Contrast this with a Las Vegas hotel, where I phoned no less than four times for maid service, and still, none was provided, and none would be that day.We, in America, seem to be hollowing out the realm of the service worker, making them an endangered species, while in Italy, for instance, they're not only omnipresent, they're effective, professional, and happy to serve.And they're being paid living wages, it appears, because, having overheard conversations, they seem to live in the immediate environs and to be able to afford its housing.Being a proud American, I tried to find a way to take credit for Italy's, and by extension for Europe's well being. How, I asked myself, have we contributed to their bliss?.Well, for one thing, they haven't had to fight a major war in at least one, and depending on how you calculate, two or even two and a half generations.
They've benefited from a "peace dividend" that we haven't realized since the ending of the Cold War, which was expected but never materialized.They've reduced barriers to trade among themselves, mostly adopted a common currency, the Euro, which is rising and has eclipsed the dollar.And maybe most notable is the fact that their elderly are visible, healthy and well taken care of.Instead of perceiving "social security" as something you can fudge on, European societies are actually committed to helping their aged to adjust to their waning years, to making a soft landing, if you will.My trip was enjoyable; don't get me wrong.But it was also disturbing.
The bedrock belief that we're better off in America was shaken, really for the first time.I like lower taxes, better upward mobility socially and economically, and by and large I'm an individualist.If I had to live abroad, I just might miss McDonald's too much, or the fact that in most American cities you can find a decent meal and diversions 24 hours a day.Still, I envy their social compact, a commitment to taking care of all of their citizens; and their sense of ease and comfort, the absence of fretting on the faces of so many moms and dads as they tend to what seems to be a proliferation of babies.And in the back of my mind, when I hear the question, "Why do they seem to despise Americans so much?" we the people, who liberated them from fascism and from communism, I'm starting to hear a faint answer.Perhaps it's because they are enjoying peace, prosperity, and hope, and they're afraid that the very country that helped to deliver these benefits, could be on the verge of taking them away through adventurism or worse, through impulsiveness.
I hope not.All I know is that I need to get out more often, to see how people are really living, to empty the fictions and propaganda from my mind.I don't know if it will help me to become a citizen of the world, but it may make me a better American.
.Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com & The Goodman Organization is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide.
A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F.
Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By: Dr. Gary S. Goodman