Friday, October 8, 2010

Is America a more trusting place than Europe?

I am starting to think it is. For example, my local CVS (like Boots in the UK) has a sort of illicit back door which people are allowed to walk in and out of completely out of sight of any staff or, as far as I can see, cameras. People accept that shop keepers just swipe their cards and don't always want receipts to check the value is correct.

I am wondering if this is with good reason. For example, I have not yet seen anyone jump over the barriers into the Washington DC Metro or walk closely behind me so that they can get in when I do. This is in stark contrast to my European experiences. And it is not like - there is no poverty - is a suitable explanation for all this trust and lack of 'cheating'.

I am also wondering if this trust (naivety?) might explain some of the more weird American behaviour - like executing people or having so many people banged up behind bars. If you trust people to behave well (giving them the freedom to do so, or not) and they break that trust, you can feel pretty pissed off and react quite strongly. This holds for people around us who break our trust and I am wondering if it holds for a society too.

1 comment:

  1. Hm. I think you're right: all these things are related - but it's because the country is pretty heavy on law enforcement. Trust me, there are cameras everywhere in the CVS even if you can't see them. And the Metro? Also has cameras and all the stations are well-stocked with Metro Police. They take turnstile jumping pretty seriously. Has anyone warned you not to eat or drink on the Metro yet?