Monday, December 28, 2015

Germans: The Natural Cynics

First, lets define a cynic or their nature.  These are typical people who are mistrusting or discredit the motives of people around them.  It doesn't matter if we are talking bankers, political figures, journalists, businessmen, taxi-drivers, school-teachers, or even priests.  Added to this definition....ridicule or mockery of others over the general standards of morality of one's life.  If you kept saying that you were living a very high-standard life and moral code, then it comes out that you were cheating on your wife or robbing customers left and just proves the reason why people need to mock moral codes.

All of this leads to some pessimistic attitude about the nature of life.  Nothing is free....nothing lasts forever....nothing is repaired on-time....nothing tastes as good as Grandma's apple pie.....nothing works precisely as advertised.  It's a harsh standard but Germans fall into this pessimistic attitude.

Yes, Germans are natural cynics.  They've probably been this way for over two thousand years and there's nothing much you can say or change their flare for life.

When a German walks into a government office and has a requirement that needs to be fulfilled....he's standing there in anticipation of a foul-up or screw-up occurring.  He's expecting some marginal government worker to be there and give them the expected two-star service deal.  He's expecting a six-page form which requires thirty minutes to fill out....when there's only four simple fields of information required for his problem.

When a German walks into a car sales room.....he's expecting a dizzy and long-winded affair by the car sales guy.....with some brief and bare mention of a 'discount' this month which is the only hint of a better price possibly coming out of this deal.  The sales guy will stall and talk over the double-triple design of the newly developed ABS brakes....which are designed to save you in a fantastic ice storm from certain death.  The German is cynical over such new technology and definitely cynical over him driving in the middle of a ice storm.

When a German sits through a political forum and gets warm and hyped up....he'll eventually retreat and ask stupid questions about why the BER (the Berlin airport) is open since 2012 but hasn't been functional and won't be functional until 2017.  Or he'll ask why the Greens got him hyped up in Stuttgart over the Stuttgart-21 project then failed to really do much to change or alter the project after they were elected into office.  Or he'll ask why no one from Volkswagen has been arrested over the diesel affair.  Or he'll ask why the Limburg Catholic bishop never spent a day in jail over his 31 million Euro renovation project.

When a German sits through a talk forum and gets charmed by some political group over a new direction ahead and various reforms needed to fix this or that....eventually he'll come back home....sit a while, and ask stupid questions.  Where will the money come from to fix this, and are you really fixing it or just changing one problem for another?

Then the German will watch some state prosecutor spends months working on a fantastic case of greed and crime (so he is told by the local media)....then one day, the judge comes to say the case is tossed because there's no real evidence to proceed or convict the the German stands there and asks what the heck was this state prosecutor talking about for an entire year?

It doesn't matter if we talk over kindergarten care, car safety features, twenty-page regulations over bio-food, natural park enthusiasts, the wind-mill enthusiasts versus the anti-wind-mill enthusiasts, left-wing anti-nuke campaigns, right-wing anti-immigrant campaigns, or soccer ethics over the World Cup.....Germans are natural cynics.

My humble belief is that this probably goes back two thousand years ago and might even relate to the Romans as they arrived in the community....proclaiming they were there to "help" the Germanic peoples, introduce trade and commercialization, and bring peace.  It might have taken a few years, but eventually, the typical German just sat there....grinned in a grim way....and figured that was this element of dishonesty which existed in the real world and they'd have to get used to it.

Oh, I'd agree that most other cultures and societies in Europe have some level of cynicism existing.....but the Germans live and breathe in this way of thinking.  A ten-year old kid is sitting on the bus and already contemplates a cynical nature with the bus-driver, the school-teacher, and the parents.  The sixty-five year old guy who is retiring in six weeks at the company where he's been for thirty-two years.....still reserves a ton of cynical nature with the boss, the company product, and co-workers.  The tour company operator has to whack herself in the head each morning, and pretend that the three-star hotel chain she is hyping is a four-star resort, and that continually looks at the list of twenty-nine positive comments referred to her in the advertising literature to get people signed up for two lousy weeks at a mediocre beach resort with cockroach problems, cheap and watered-down but free booze, and a pool referred by many visitors as the 'pool from hell'.

So, if you are the non-German and happen to be standing there one afternoon, and there's this wit or moment of expression by your German associate....being a bit cynical and lacking trust in don't need to ask a lot of questions or challenge them.  It's a strong element of their character and they are relying upon this to survive.  After all of the nukes, global warming, devastation, and meteor strikes upon this planet....with absolute collapse of the ecosystem...there will still be cockroaches around, and a handful of German cynics who promptly declare that they've seen worse, and they just didn't believe that end-of-the-Earth talk by journalists.

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