Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Culture Gap between Rome and America

"Another classic instance [of the culture gap] is differing attitudes towards law. For Anglo-Saxons, law is a lowest common denominator of civil behavior, and hence we assume that laws are meant to be obeyed. If we find that people aren’t obeying a given law, it’s a problem, and we either crack down or change the law. In Mediterranean cultures, on the other hand, law is more an expression of an ideal, and there’s tremendous room for subjectivity in interpretation and application in a concrete set of circumstances. Anyone who’s ever driven the streets of an Italian city knows what I’m talking about. The bar tends to be set high, with the implicit understanding that most people, most of the time, will far short to varying degrees."

Read more of John Allen's balanced and thought-provoking column here.

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