For many years I became mildly seasonally depressed each Fall as the days grew shorter and leafs began to fall leaving the trees bare and bleak looking. That doesn't happen so much anymore because most of the trees here in the Houston area are either Live Oaks or Pines which stay green year around. I've come to appreciate the shorter days because life becomes a little bit less of a rush for those of us who are retired. We can't cram as much into short Fall and Winter days as we try to do in the seemingly endless days of summer.
Nevertheless, I enjoy summers, especially the couple few weeks leading to the end of summer. My
|Stunning Shot of Northern European Village|
I enjoy the people of northern Europe. They live their lives well. Like Switzerland, the countries of
One thing I like a great deal about the northern Europeans is they take a more sensible approach to religion than do Americans. In some parts of northwestern Europe, almost 30% of the population are atheists, compared to only 10% in the United States. More importantly, of the 70% who remain believers, almost none worship in churches that are involved in anything even close to the fundamentalism that attracts more than 30% of all U.S. Christians. The lack of fundamentalism means that northwestern European cultures are significantly different than U.S. culture. They see religion beliefs as a personal thing not open to active proselytizing. Fundamentalist in the U.S. are extremely active in proselytizing and see it as their duty to save everyone who does not believe as they do from Hell by converting them not just to Christianity, but to fundamental Christianity. We should be so lucky here in the U.S.
|Norwegian Stave Church|
We could certainly learn a thing or two from the Europeans. Of course, to be fair, I have to point out that not all is rosy there. In a conversation with one man, I told him within two weeks of being diagnosed with cancer I was undergoing treatment by an oncologists. He readily admitted such a thing rarely if every happened in the socialized medical systems in Europe.
In some northwestern European countries women who give birth are give one year off with their babies and retain their full pay. Such a thing is bound to be a boon to childhood development, but we'll never see it here in the U.S. And, of course, it must be pointed out that everything in northwestern Europe is expensive for Americans. Social benefits are not free. There is a definite cost, and high prices and even higher taxes are required to support the cradle to grave welfare systems.
I think America and Americans suffer from an all too often parochial outlook because they are too isolated from the rest of the world. We won't and we shouldn't adopt everything that is European, but it would be nice to consider where they seem to have made better decisions that we.