There was an interesting segment on NPR last night about President Bush’s trip to Britain. Many people in Britain vocally object to this visit and are protesting in various ways, for example singing (badly), taking too many pictures of him with their mobile phones, or becoming the Queen’s servants.
Anyway, the (British [-sounding]) newsreader commented on the fact that the Brits aren’t consistent: 60% of people think America is a force for good in the world, while roughly the same number consider Bush to be a danger to world peace. This could be down to polling errors or the speed at which public opinion moves (between the two polls), but an alternative explanation is that the British people are able to distinguish between America and its leader. I am heartened by this news, especially coming as it did on such a momentous day, being both the first day of Bush’s visit, and Mickey Mouse’s 75th birthday.
I mainly came to America for work (which I enjoy immensely). A minor reason was to see America at first hand from the inside. I already had some understanding, having plenty of American friends over the years, but I am interested in getting a better appreciation. It is clear that America is a land of great wealth, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. It is hard to synthesise this into an overall understanding of America. Actually, I do not think it is possible. Now, looking back at the UK, I wonder, “what is Britain”? I find I can’t answer that question either.