Germans like to use the term “alles in ordung” which means all is in order.  This translates into a very orderly way of life.  Traffic laws are based upon the fact that everyone know what the order is and everyone does it.  The autobahn is its own system and as long as everyone follows the order it works.

Germans do drive fast.  One just learns to not watch.  However, because of the emphasis upon order, Germans are alert and responsive.  I never saw one German text and drive.  They just can’t do that in the German traffic system.  It doesn’t work.

Since being back I continually watch drivers who are talking on the phone or texting.  They will slow down on the freeway regardless of the lane they are in (which would cause major accidents in Germany) and live in their own little world without regard to the rest of the traffic.  What would possess a person to text while driving 60-70 miles an hour on the freeway?  Makes no sense.

Where Germans lose their sense of order is when it comes to standing in line.  Standing in line just doesn’t happen.  When the door opens, all make a beeline and the pushing begins.  This happens with getting on and off of trains.  Instead of waiting for people to get off the train, I would watch people stand right in front of the door which prevented people from getting off the train.  Then everyone would push to get to where they thought they should be.  This really was the only chaos that I observed.

So, rules help.  And, when one lives in a land that is governed by law one sees that life an be more livable.  The United States used to be a country governed by laws..  Now it appears that we are governed by individualism and so what works best for me is what is going to happen.  The fact that these Tea Party people can shut down the whole system because they don’t get their own way is unheard of and violates the America dream.  Their selfish individualism caused a great deal of damage.  This would not happen in Europe.

Alex de Tocqueville once wrote (back in the 1780’s) that the great experiment of democracy being conducted by the United States would work as long as the culture did not break down into individualism.  He observed that the American system depended upon people who invested in the system and saw the greater good over and above personal expression. 

My observation is that Alex may have been correct.  Robert Bellah calls it the “great unraveling of the American culture” as individualism spreads.  We have possibly traded order for chaos so that “I can do what I want, when I want.”  It just won’t work.  It is all about community.

That is all for now…………………

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