This is a tale of two cities: NYC and Amsterdam. It’s been seven years since I moved back from Europe to New York. I’m now pretty much settled into a way of life and that allows me space to glimpse the changes encountered through a telescopic lens. In comparing, Chinese menu style – Column A & B – the two cities of NY and Amsterdam in context of their respective nations, here’s what I came up with.
New York slash America
- Anonymity allows for freedom of movement, action and lifestyle choice
- Laws pertaining to a woman’s choice how to use her body are Draconian and totalitarian in most states
- Right wing Evangelicals impose their viewpoints on the education and legal systems. This is no different in Iran, Sudan or Indonesia.
- Trends relating to lifestyle such as eating organic, conserving energy and using green products lag behind that of other states such as Oregon, Washington and California.
- Teenage pregnancy and in a larger context sexual promiscuity at tender ages (10 onwards) are commonplace and that is coupled with a low educational level.
- Same sex marriage is banned in most states thus creating a culture of homophobia, hatred and intolerance.
- The range of activities – cultural, athletic and musical – for children above 7 years old is tremendous
- Public education has gone the way of the Japanese and Chinese. Rote memory routines, tremendous amounts of homework and a focus on non-liberal arts related subject matter may prove to be a death wish to our children. Will teenage suicides be far off?
- The Hispanic population are the new Blacks. (I still like that more than African-American. I mean I don’t call myself a Belorussian-German-Hungarian-Jewish American. I’m just American!)
- There is no dog shit on the streets here. You’d get a whopping fine if caught so everyone uses a pooper scooper for their dogs.
Amsterdam slash The Netherlands
- Citizen watch reminds me of Big Brother. Everyone knows a little too much about you and your whereabouts.
- Women are free to choose how to use their bodies. Abortion and prostitution are legal. Government provides health care to the latter and coverage is available for the former.
- The Christian majority ( I am not differentiating between Protestant and Catholic) does not wear religion on their sleeve. Most people do not attend church. That said, the up and coming Muslim population are causing a ruckus amongst the ranks. The, thanks-to-WWII, meager population of Jews is a blip on the radar screen. Outside of Amsterdam most people haven’t met one and are ignorant of their holidays.
- The country as a whole is far ahead in recycling.
- The infrastructure actually works yet in a land the size of Rhode Island why wouldn’t it?
- There are very few measures taken in public for handicapped citizens. Hardly any handrails, seats on public transport, public restrooms, restaurants or movie theaters exist. Those with disabilities are rarely seen on the streets, let alone in jobs.
- The elderly are shunted off to old age homes where the key is thrown away. Hardly anyone over 65 is seen in public enjoying themselves. Restaurants, bars, the cinema, ballet, art museums, bowling, sporting or musical events are devoid of a major percentage of this silver population.
- The range of indoor activities for toddlers is amazingly varied.
- The amount of tattoo parlors, sex shops and sleaze on the streets of Amsterdam hasn’t helped it’s image.
- Public schools are still segregated. The terminology used for “good” and “bad” schools attests to this sad fact. Good = white and Bad = non-white. Apartheid?