In defense of the French
The French economy is the fifth largest in the world. They are bested in Europe only by the Germans, so all in all, they seem to be doing pretty well.
Cadillac has produced a new advertisement which has “fueled Parisian fury,” criticizing the French for their laid-back lifestyle by saying (initially) what I’ve been thinking (and grumbling about with disgruntled co-workers) since I entered “the real world.”
“Why do we work so hard?” actor Neil McDonough asks in the advert. “For what? For this? For stuff? Other countries don’t work; they stroll home, stop by the café, they take August off. Off.”
“Why aren’t you like that?” he goes on. “Why aren’t we like that? Because we’re crazy, driven, hard-working believers, that’s why.”
At first, I nodded my head and shouted an internal, “Yeah!” Strolling home, stopping by the café, and taking August off sound heavenly. But, alas, the moral of this commercial’s story is “stuff makes us happy”:
“As for all the stuff, that’s the upside to only taking two weeks off in August, n’est ce pas?”
Obviously hard work pays off. The “American dream,” a bygone notion in this day and age, was based on the idea that freedom + hard work = the opportunity for all to succeed. It’s what made us the best and continues, in some pockets of the country, to drive us to beat our competition.
That being said…all work and no play does make Jack a dull boy.
We Americans may work, work, work, but to what end? To buy Cadillacs that we will use to commute to and from the office in stop-and-go traffic? “We’re in a hurry to get things done, and we rush and rush until life’s no fun,” so the country song goes.
As Americans, we are ingrained with a drive to be the best. It’s both remarkable and commendable. But if we’re working so hard just for the sake of material goods (not a surprising message from a company that sells such items), where will that get us?
I am not blaming Americans for working hard. Go us! But I am praising the French for working hard enough, and enjoying life a lot more. And I am DEFINITELY blaming the federal government for forcing us to work so hard. If regulations were fewer, taxes were less high, and the average American worker didn’t have to support an average of two non-workers with his pay check (I made that figure up, but you know what I mean), we might be able to have leisurely lunches and take August off, too.