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Time to be a little controversial, I believe.  If the European lifestyle and way of life is less and intense and more relaxed, why can't we, or don't we, here in the U.S. adopt more of this attitude?  The short answer, I believe, is religion.  The longer answer is phenomenally more complicated.  I should clarify something here, I suppose.  I'm specifically referring to how Europeans (gross generalization here) view sex, food, and life.  Since I'm from Europe (although I take great pride in my French heritage) I say this only through observation and personal experience–the latter more specifically through literature, film and being there.

It's my personal opinion there is more of a laid back view towards sex in Europe.  There seems to be less of a "hang up" about sex.  More freedom of sexual expression.  Riding the Metro in Paris, I see ads on the walls of the various stations of women and men in various stages of nudity.  Topless women.  Josephine Baker in her banana skirt and nothing else.  Ads in stores show firming creams and other lotions and potions for women, showing the women almost nude and or completely nude.  Other ads for perfumes, cosmetics, clothing, jewelry–in Europe they are different.  They are bolder, more erotic, evocative and, ultimately sexual.  Why do we not see the same ads in the States?

Then there is the infidelity.  This is such a loaded word.  It's a very negative word here in the States.  Infidelity breaks up families.  I know this.  Great pain is caused by wives or husbands who cheat.  Am I sure this doesn't happen in the same way in Europe?  No.  What I do know, from talking with my various friends who live throughout Europe is (and another generalization here), there is more of a sense of "what we don't know doesn't hurt us."  If, ultimately, a spouse "cheats" but does not end up leaving the spouse, then where's the harm?  Do I really believe this?  I'm not sure.  My religious upbringing tells me this is all wrong.  Marriage and committed relationships should be about trust and fidelity.  Right?  Why the, are the Europeans so much more casual about it, and why do they seem happier sexually?  Does sexual freedom really translate into happiness?  Is there less guilt?  Is sex, in Europe, more fun?

If there is more sexual freedom in Europe, along with a greater appreciation for good food, art and ultimately, life in general, then why wouldn't we learn from this way of thinking and adapt it into our culture as well?  Why do we focus on the fat content of butter as opposed to how good it makes food taste?  Why are we expected to write down how many drinks we have per week every time we visit the doctor, when wine is an expected part of meals in Europe?  Is there less obesity in Europe?  I believe so.  Less alcoholism?  That one, I'm not sure of.  I do keep coming back to the European way of life, however, and why they seem so much happier.

If we here in the U.S. are descended from (among other faiths) the puritans and we continue to adopt a harsh and rigid view towards home, health, family and beliefs, then I'm not sure we will come out of this any healthier or happier.  Guilt seems to be such a common thread among major religions.  We are constantly reminded of what we have done wrong, not what we do right.  Not how to live with joy, but to atone for sins.  I don't like that about religion.  I don't believe we are meant to deny ourselves in order to believe.  Not to bash any one particular religion here, but if it makes us miserable, if we are unhealthy physically because of our inability to enjoy butter (another generalization) and also less happy compared to our European friends and other foreign neighbors, isn't it time to do something about it?


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tuliplady wrote Jan 6, 2009
    • Lots of food for thought.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Marcy wrote Jan 6, 2009
    • Hmmm?  I guess when the time comes... we only have ONE person to answer to & that’s God.  I grew up in a conservative household where infidelity & laid back views of sex were not discussed but understood to be “bad“.  

      One should only “feel” guilt if one is truly “guilty“.  I don’t believe that “guilt” runs thru all major religions... the only one I have heard over & over is how the nuns in the Catholic church/school would pound the guilt card into the heads of children.  I have a daughter in law who is Catholic & she believes that anything bad that happens is due to some unconfessed sin in her life.  I’m not Catholic so I can’t say for sure??  

      As far as food & wine goes... I think the general population of Europe is probably healthier due to their diets... and possibly activity level?  We as Americans have become lazy... video games, computers, & TV have replaced going for walks or bike rides.  

      Of course, these are just my personal opinions...

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Stellababette wrote Jan 6, 2009
    • I don’t want to make this an overly simplistic issue because I think it isn’t.  Quite the opposite!  There are many angles and many factors in why we, in general, are overweight, unhappy, less motivated, uptight, etc.  And, the same is true for why some Europeans (many Europeans, perhaps) aren’t.  I don’t want to make broad sweeping statements, but I find myself wondering why we are the way we are, and what we could do change that.

      Thanks for your replies.  Needless to say, I have a lot of time on my hands these days!  LOL!!

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