Soviet people were convinced that paradise existed “overseas.” Every misfortune, every contretemps was narrated with the obligatory addendum of how nothing this untoward could have happened overseas where problems did not exist, period. (The hatred Russians feel for “the West” today originated in the discovery that life there was not fully paradisiacal. It’s that sense of betrayal when you discover that Santa isn’t real and there is no magic in the world.)
What’s really curious, though, is that there is a large class of Americans who are like that, too. They also think there’s a paradise and they bring it up with maniacal dedication. Like their Soviet counterparts, they believe that paradise is located overseas. Their Garden of Eden is a vaguely defined Northern Europe, and one ends up having the most tiresomely repetitive discussions with them.
“I can’t have any dessert because I’m pre-diabetic.”
“Ugh! Here in the US half of the population is diabetic. We are so third-world! This doesn’t happen in other countries.”
“It’s hereditary. My grandfather died of diabetes.”
“You see! If this was in Western Europe, he’d live to be 80!”
“He did, actually.”
“And his healthcare would have been free! And it would have been of a much better quality!”
“He died in Ukraine.”
“Good for him! At least it wasn’t in this horrible country!”
At which point I begin to contemplate gorging on massive quantities of dessert with the goal of going into a hyperglycemic shock and escaping from this insane conversation.