I asked a Russian friend, a young businessman and politician from a major Russian regional city, “What one word would you use to describe your impression of America?” This man, and his pretty wife, had been driving their rented car about Southern California for three weeks and having a delightful time. He thought about his answer for a moment, then he said, “Discipline!”
That was a surprise to me. I never thought of us particularly as a disciplined people. Certainly we are not aware of this. But, then if I think of his answer from a Russian perspective, I see what he means. We have laws, the yellow stripe down the road for example, this is there for our safety and best interest. “We” put it there, through our elected representatives. It was not imposed “from the top.” That is democracy.
In Russia, where I had a telecom company, the girls would say, at coffee break, they were looking for “a clever man.” By that they meant a man who could succeed in getting around the laws, those laws and rules imposed from the top down and enforced by police willing to leniently excuse the offender, for a price.
We take our freedom and democracy for granted. We should not. We should be grateful for every day of it.