As a traveling teenager, I was well aware of the Ugly American label given to culturally unconscious American tourists. The UA exempted himself from courtesies and social mores of the country to which he was a guest. I understood this especially well while sitting next to Hillary in one of the great orchestra halls in Vienna, when she burst into raucous laughter, and felt no shame when heads swiveled her way in anger.
There was only one way to respond--we hurried out, causing even more shame on the youth of America and exacerbating the Ugly American label.
I would like to think the Ugly American has grown up, been refined, and can no longer be found on the squares, in the music halls, in the bars of Europe, Asia, and South America, drinking too much and pinching bar maids' behinds. I try to learn a few phrases of the language, to speak in a soft voice, and to sway to the jolts of custom and culture.
According to my Dutch friend, the new countrymen of disorder and disdain are the Brits. They travel to Amsterdam to drink, brawl and pee in the streets. She teaches the history of Amsterdam with an emphasis on its government and is a frequent invitee to Amsterdam city council meetings where the Brits and their behavior perplex the city's protectors...
and we haven't even mentioned soccer games...
While having a quiet breakfast, the waiter offers to seat a Brit who states while walking to his table, "I don't like Greek food and I'm hoping for some fish & chips."
Very little harm done, but the offense was clear.
Here's the sad truth: for every one Ugly American, Brit, Indian, Italian, Pole or Nigerian, there's ten who aren't, but because of our actions, we bring labels upon the whole group to which we belong and represent.
When we act, we are never acting alone. When we speak, we never speak only for ourselves.
What if we took it a step beyond nationality, pushed beyond the ugly American or Britand saw the greater importance of overcoming the ugly human within us all?
Follow the golden rule. Gold is the color most often associated with unsurpassed beauty~~ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Be a beautiful human.