USA – Sonoma, California – Has America become the most selfish country on Earth?…

Jul 09, 2012 6 Comments by

USA – Sonoma, California – Has America become the most selfish country on Earth?……

- by The Guru

Sonoma may well be one of the nicest places on Earth to live.  On a perfect summer’s day in June, who could argue.  It is clean, elegant, safe and most of all so very, very friendly – or so it appears.  There is something for everyone from the nearby wineries, the fantastic restaurants, and the charming town square to even a huge new Whole Food Market store.

What better place to test drive the new Olympus OMD EM5 camera I picked up the day before.  Fresh off the plane at SFO the night before and after a lovely night’s rest in Half Moon Bay (review coming here shortly), I made my way over to Palo Alto to pick up the Olympus from specialty camera store, Keeble and Shuchat.  It was my first time there but they made me very welcome and offer superb service, not to mention they actually had the camera in stock unlike the rest of the world.

With no time to “read the manual” or do any other set up, I decided to see how well the camera fares on iAuto as, let’s be honest, that is where the dial will remain for most users, most of the time.  Like a good restaurant’s choice of house wine, a test of any digital camera these days should be how well it performs in “auto mode”.  By the way, on the subject of good restaurants, I ate at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma and it was a truly excellent meal.  Their website is here.  The best place to stay in town is undoubtedly MacArthur Place and their website is here.  Tell both I recommended them highly when you go…

My camera came with the 12-50mm M.Zuiko zoom lens; silver body and black lens and spectacular it looks too.  Does it take great pictures?  You bet!  Here are 20 shots taken on the fly as a travel photographer would in a hurry looking to catch the best of a place in an hour.  They are taken as JPEGs from the camera and tweaked a little in iPhoto, that’s all.

Whilst a sunny day in the California countryside is always a good formula to get the best from any camera, there is no doubt in my mind the color reproduction is nothing short of spectacular.  The camera is also a joy to use – not too big, not too small.

Outskirts of Sonoma near the Raceway - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Outskirts of Sonoma near the Raceway – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

However, this idyllic location set me thinking and as the day wore on I was more and more overwhelmed by a strange feeling….  A feeling that is difficult to describe but maybe contains the following adjectives – insincere, selfish, detached and self-serving.

It occurred to me that Sonoma is not really a good example of the US since, unlike the vast majority of the US now, it is affluent, white and upper / middle class; however, this is ironically the very place to see first hand the malaise I refer to as the ugly face of America.  Let me explain…

Sonoma City Hall - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma City Hall – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

I have traveled all over the US and mixed with people of different classes, races and income levels but it is never more obvious than amongst well-heeled folk such as reside in Sonoma how much selfishness there exists in this once great country.  The US is dying, slowly but surely, as the Fourth Reich comes to an end and we await the Asian domination of the world led by China, but in these last days of the US being a world power, that really ugly face is really showing itself.

For more on the emergence of China as the Fifth Reich, see my piece here.  Meanwhile…

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

The contrast between the beauty of the physical surroundings of Sonoma and the ugliness of its residents could not be more striking – they are not ugly on the outside but they have lost their souls if they ever had one.  The sort of person who moves to or lives in Sonoma is making a clear statement – “I have money and I don’t give a damn about anyone else”…

Harsh?  Maybe… But undoubtedly fair.  Why?  The US now more than any other time in its history is failing.  It has at the time of writing this article, $17 trillion of debt, a heath service in decay, social deprivation never seen before in a developed country, schools that need metal detectors for the children to enter and streets that are in most cities too dangerous to walk at night.  Yet, the Sonomaites go about their day blissfully unaware of any of these issues.  I suspect the biggest crime most years in downtown Sonoma is a parking violation and so this blissful ignorance shields them from the harsh reality that is modern-day America.

Sonoma Craft Shop - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Craft Shop – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Let us not forget that Sonoma is in California, the richest state in the Union in many ways yet it is on the brink of being totally bankrupt.  Many individual cities have filed for bankruptcy and whilst the excesses of Los Angeles and the energy of San Francisco would never give you that impression, California is in big trouble and all that trade with Asia will not help.

This is old news but the point of my piece here is more compelling.  I am convinced that the reason that California is on the verge of becoming bankrupt and the rest of the US will soon follow (even though it technically already is with $17 trillion of debts), is because of the mentality of places like Sonoma.

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

You see, whereas other nations pull together in times of crisis, Americans pull apart.  In Asia, and even Europe, families stick together but not in the US.  They fight over the will of a bereaved one, feud over control of family businesses and get divorced at the drop of a hat because selfish living is the new norm.

Recently, the US hit several new milestones – the divorce rate is now so high the chances are that your new marriages will now end in divorce, obesity is at over 35% (yes, more than one in three people are obese, not overweight, obese – overweight is at over 70%!), most people live alone and crime is reaching new levels in almost every sector…

Sonoma Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Why is this happening to the US?  The answer is simple.  The social fabric has long been destroyed.  People don’t care.  They smile, they say nice things but they really don’t mean it.  There is a saying that a person should “take a sincerity pill” if they are behaving in a less than sincere way; well, that would become the most dipsensed drug for sure in the US if we followed that cure!

Most Americans simply don’t care about anyone else but themselves and in a place like Sonoma you can bet that all people behave like that.  Why am I picking on Sonoma?

Simply because some of the less affluent inner city or rural areas of the US still retain a semblance of old values – family values, mutual respect and generosity – but it would be impossible to survive with these values in Sonoma because no-one else would reciprocate.  As with all social constructs, they cannot exist in isolation as by the sheer nature of being social, they require reciprocation.

Sonoma Train - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Train – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

So what you see beneath the surface of the shiny facades and clean streets of Sonoma is very ugly indeed – greed, selfishness and above all a total lack of care for other human beings.  This me-me-me cult of living has been developing over many decades but is now accelerating as the gap between the haves and have-nots increases and people become only more entrenched in their own existence at the expense of anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong – Americans are not overly rude or aggressive to your face, they will simply not lift a finger for you because they just don’t care about anyone else but themselves.

Sonoma Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

If like me you have traveled and seen other cultures, this American way is quite shocking.  No country or culture is perfect but nowhere on Earth is there a more selfish people than Americans.  Next time you return from the US and check your hotel bill or car hire receipt only to find you have been cheated – it always happens – remember it is not personal, it is just the American way as everyone looks after “number one”.

Is there any hope for Americans?  Probably not.  The very small percentage that do travel, see the difference in other countries and out this down to the “charm” of the place but certainly won’t change their own behavior.  For the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not have a passport and don’t see any reason to have one, they are simply too entrenched in their belief that the US is the greatest country on Earth and so the American way must prevail…

Sonoma Centre Du Vin - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Du Vin – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

An interesting statistic is that every year over 1 million Americans arrive at the airport woht no passport and are refused boarding – why?  they simply never thought they could not travel anywhere becasue they are American after all!

For the rest of us, the US has some beautiful sights but don’t let that deceive you.  It is a very ugly country indeed when you look below the surface.

Meanwhile, enjoy the images from the new Olympus OMD EM5 and if you think I am too harsh on the poor Americans, please let me know WHY…

The Guru.

Sonoma Cafe - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cafe – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cinema - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cinema – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Place Des Pyrenees - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Place Des Pyrenees – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Swiss Hotel - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Swiss Hotel – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Plaza Bistro - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Plaza Bistro – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Red Wolf Gallery - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Red Wolf Gallery – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Shop - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Shop – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma road home - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma road home – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

 

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About the author

I have traveled and lived all over the world - 95 countries and counting! I have information you can't find elsewhere and I share it here to promote healthy discussion about the world's people and cultures.

6 Responses to “USA – Sonoma, California – Has America become the most selfish country on Earth?…”

  1. Oliver says:

    This is quite shocking but actually very true… On my last trip to America just recently, I cam across a similar type of attitude… America surely is going down.

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    • The Guru says:

      Hi Oliver

      Yes, I was there recently and was shocked at the selfish manner.

      As I say in my piece, some areas are not so bad. Texas for example has some very friendly people compared tot he rest of the US!

      Thanks for reading my site.

      The Guru

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  2. Abel Jonas says:

    Americans, eh…

    Well, I am one by birth but I have to say I left I left many years ago as I can’t stand my own people. How depressing is that!

    Actually, you are spot on. Americans are so damn awful these days. Selfish, arrogant and simply rude! They are getting worse. I can’t really be bothered to speak to my friends from the US these days.

    Keep it up, Guru.

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    • The Guru says:

      Haha, Sorry to hear you are American, Abel. I guess you left in time to still have a personality…

      The Guru.

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  3. Denise says:

    Guru

    A little bit harsh me feels…. But I do agree mostly. As a US girl I see things getting worse each year. I think the biggest problem is money or rather love of it. Everything is about getting paid more these days….

    Denise

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    • The Guru says:

      Hi Denise

      Well, I have been traveling to the US for the last 30 years and the change is amazing. Americans have always been know for being insular but now they are more likely to come across as rude. I think money is at the root of it.

      The Guru

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