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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

England and America: Two Nations Separated by a Common Language

Not specifically CR, but one thing that has struck me on this visit to the UK are the number of issues, in the newspapers and on the TV and radio, that are common concerns for the British and the Americans.

Amongst them are overcrowding in prisons, dealing with released sex offenders, costs and end of life decisions of aging populations, discrimination against older people (in the UK required to retire at 65), the optimum age for testing for women’s cancers in particular, achieving good completion rates for the national census, an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor.

That isn’t to say that each country is reaching the same conclusions on how to address those issues. Far from it. But having lived in two countries for a significant length of time I have a developed a strong appreciation for the view that you cannot simply transplant solutions across international borders, even with two countries with a common language and similar levels of economic and educational development.

Solutions that work do so because they tie in with many interdependent factors specific to the community in which they are applied. But we can learn from each other and, although I cannot articulate why, I do get some level of comfort from seeing the issues feature here too. Maybe it is a validation that they are real and difficult issues if another country is struggling with them too.

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