Originally Posted by mammal_mama
But I just wondered if someone could give us some insight into the European way of looking at horrible misfortunes.
Since so many Americans have this "automatic pilot" response of blaming someone, anyone, for every. single. thing. that goes wrong -- I don't know if we're so much "sinking" as just "staying' in that mentality.
Is it that Europeans are more comfortable with releasing control over their lives? Meaning, I think many of us who blame the victim, do so because it helps us maintain a sense of control over what happens to us. Just so long as we're never that "irresponsible" or "naive" or whatever -- that horrible thing will never happen to us or our loved ones.
How do Europeans "deal?"
I can't entirely answer your (very good) question but I think I can at least explain some of the European view. Some background: I'm an American by birth and have lived in South America and the Middle East before settling in Continental Europe. I'm married to a European man and have lived here for the past 7.5 years.
I think a huge difference is the view of individual responsibility. For better and for worse, (most -- granted, we're still talking a huge numbers of countries and cultures here) Europeans have a more collectivist outlook. For them, the individual isn't always paramount. Rather, the society as a whole is. Therefore, many (most) Europeans don't mind paying what, by American standards, are very high taxes. Not only do they get a lot in return and know it (!) but I can't count the number of times I've heard business people and wealthy people say, "I'm happy to pay more so that everyone has a basic standard of living." In the US, I think we're much more likely to say, "It's up to the people themselves to achieve that basic standard of living and I'm not paying a red cent more than necessary to help them."
I'm *not* trying to start an argument here about social welfare systems! Really! There are pros and cons in my opinion to both systems. I'm just trying to illustrate some basic differences in outlook.
I think this "collectivist" mentality also explains a bit about the response to the McCann tragedy. In the US, our view is that the individual is ultimately responsible for his/her actions. In Europe, there is a view that society as a whole is responsible. Hence, the greater speed at which Americans condemn an individual for not being responsible enough (in their perception).
As someone else said, Europeans, as a whole, aren't as concerned with child-rearing per se. Yes, they love their kids, take good care of them, have playgroups,,etc., etc.! However, because the state takes care of so much, there isn't this extreme angst about kids achieving and every single little thing that parents should or should not be doing. And, let's face it, the McCann tragedy aside, it *is* much safer here to raise kids so there doesn't need to be that concern for physical safety.
I hope this explains at least part of the difference.