Dreams from Venice, Love from Paris, and Other Misguided Tales

My sister traveled to Europe for her 40th birthday and brought back several photographs and souvenirs. I truly appreciate the fact that I was on her mind while she was among such a wondrous environment. I’m very grateful to have such a loving, caring sister. She works very hard and deserved every second of that trip! Additionally, the photos were just awesome and I found myself asking how the environment smelled, what the temperature was like, how was the humidity, etc. (you know, questions about all of the other senses that can’t be duplicated).

Venice

Venice (Photo credit: Arian Zwegers)

Some of her photos were mini-videos. We’re so lucky to live in an age when communication is so easily accomplished with the advances of camera phones! My sister played one of the videos; I admired the crystal clear, high resolution motion picture of her riding with her husband at the back of a boat in Venice. Her amazed expressions were childlike as the boat floated along canals dividing intricate buildings connected by bridges which were centuries old. I was reminded of what a foreign exchange student said once in a college class a few years ago when one of my fellow students had inquired about culture shock, she simply stated “One of the biggest adjustments for me is the fact that you don’t have buildings in America as historical as we have in France and all of Europe.”

 As I lay in bed that night, it occurred to me that perhaps America is missing something, and it isn’t even our fault.  We don’t have the intricate, centuries old buildings they have in Europe, or any of the appreciation. What is the importance of these structures? I believe they keep us in touch with our humanity. One can look at a historical structure of Europe as a tangible echo erected by the hands of some civilization who trod the very same ground ages ago. Here in America, we have centuries and an ocean between ourselves and our humanity.

The values between Europe and America differ greatly; for example, Notre Dame Cathedral still stands centuries after its groundbreaking during the year 1163. Here in Ogden, Utah where I live, the distinctive Mormon Temple which was dedicated in 1972 was recently demolished mere decades after it was built due to the structure “being architecturally out of style.” Here in America, it’s out with the old, in with the new and capitalism reigns supreme. If something breaks, we throw it away and buy another.

As my sister continued with her fascinating presentation of photographs, she came upon photos of her nephew being trolleyed away on a gurney after dislocating his knee while exploring Paris. Sadly, the young man had to be sent back home to the United States and his European trip was cut short; however, the entire medical expense was only around 100 American dollars. There was no waiting for ages to be seen by a medical professional and the whole process was very smooth.

It’s pretty sad when one can get injured on foreign soil and be treated far better in that country than if the injury happened while a citizen in the United States. We are a country of misguided consumerists, who push our elderly off into nursing homes and forget about them. We cannot wrap our minds around the thought of actually caring for our family members in their times of need, let alone caring for our fellow citizens; instead, we try our hardest to sidestep any sort of responsibility, from one human to another.

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