Installed with pride over the brewery.
Readers (a.k.a. people wasting time at work) will know that a few years back when I was diligently drink researching this project, I spent a considerable amount of time pub crawling across Europe. It was coined “Drinkabout” and was the first time, I had ever attempted blogging. My friend, Carl, who eventually would surface as the great Civil Life painter, on occasion remarked, I was the “World’s Worst Blogger.” He was mostly right. Actually he was 100% right. Logging hour after hour in pubs is no easy task and the grueling work schedule left little time to blog. But it was during my 500 mile hike/bar crawl across Spain that I came to realize something that still sits with me today.
In the Pyrenees, I befriended a German Danny and as we hiked we quickly became friends. He was a generous chap and we instantly began talking about our countries and our backgrounds. You never would believe how many times, I met people that hadn’t had much exposure if any to Americans. Many Europeans simply get fed media bits just the same as we do and it does harshly color their impressions of the United States. At times, I felt as though I was acting as an ambassador explaining about all the really great things about the United States that they didn’t know and that doesn’t hit the international media waves. At the time, foreign news casts were discussing the health care issue as the town hall meetings which seemed like a good idea on paper had seem to go awry.
So I put a question to Danny. I asked him what he thought of Angela Merkel, the German prime minister. The response was something different than I had ever encountered in our politically divided country. He spent about 10 minutes thoughtfully discussing her idealogy, ability to lead and Germany’s role in the EU. But what caught me was his opinions were a very thoughtful balance between both her positives and negatives. It was something that caught me off-guard as it always seems in the United States, we are either for or against someone.
Along the hike, I encountered so many people from different countries and what I began to pick up was this sincere pride in their country. My Polish friend, Marek loved his country and in the next sentence told me a story of how someone actually stole a bridge in Northern Poland. I thought, hey that’s not so bad have you ever heard of Enron.
I saw constant reminders of people, in particular Canadians with flags on their backpacks. I sure do like the Canadians. I know we like to give them trouble here but I found a few along the way and understanding “Canadian” English in a Czech hostel is much easier than “Czech” English. The Czech Republic was the first country, I had ever traveled in that I decided to not worry about learning the pronunciations of the traveling niceties. I tried, but unfortunately, I found that as their language was being developed there must have been a shortage of a, e, i, o and u’s. And quite frankly, my mind couldn’t tell my tongue what to do and it often sounded like I was choking when trying to say please, hello and thank-you. But the Czech people were kind and for the 4 weeks I was there I never had trouble ordering a beer, food or finding a good bartender.
So along this bar crawl, I began to question whether I had lost my sense of Nationalism. I needed some soul searching and I couldn’t figure out what happened. Was it because I was so far away from home and not missing it? But that is really just me, I throw myself into experiences and the newness of situations feels like putting on a heavy coat in the dead of winter and the warmth that comes from that coat seems to keep me going.
It was terrible.
But how did it happen.
Well, let’s say I subscribe fully to the “Make Beer, Not War” slogan (as seen in our grand opening parade. Years of paying attention to the media pitted me against friends, family and people I didn’t know. I used to like Tea. Really, when I worked in New York over ten years ago, I had a great conversation and evening meeting at one of New York’s first tea lounges.
Around this soul searching time, I had ended up in Salzburg, Austria visiting a friend I made along the Camino. She had invited me to Salzburg and when I arrived, I was fortunate to be invited to her family’s house on that Friday night. So it was Friday night, and there I sat at their family dinner table being fed beers (Stiegl) and enjoying passed meats and cheeses. It wasn’t because I was here, this was their Friday night. Franziska’s sister (and husband) was there, her brother, her mom and her dad. It was Friday night and being warmly welcomed into a family event was comforting as it now had been 4 months since I had seen mine.
Franziska’s mom said something, that I will always remember. When we were talking about the political climate in the United States, she said, “Why do people care so much?”
It was her question, posed to me in that manner in which I was able to put together the pieces of my own answers to my question about my own nationalism.
My opinion, is that people care so much in this country because opinion driven media constantly wages a war to keep us tuned in. Keeping us tuned in keeps tv’s turned on and tv’s turned on keeps advertising money flowing in.... and the cycle begins. This is much deeper than I have time to go into and you have already wasted enough time reading this.
But since returning, I for the most part have removed myself from political discussions. I have tried to seek a “Danny” like approach when discussing politics but sometimes I just think a bit like Franziska’s mom. And most importantly, I realized the negative machine destroyed many people’s sense of nationalism but it didn’t destroy mine. I will feel no greater pride than the day we bottle or can and I can put American made, American made on our labels.
It was with great pride that I put the American Flag in our Parade and that more locally, the St. Louis Flag led it down Holt. It is with great pride that I put the American Flag in front of my business every day. There is no place in the world that is more supportive of entrepreneurs. And it is with great pride that I hung it high in the Brewery. American made and more important American owned. And by that, I mean this American.
America has brought the world countless innovations and many times is the first to lend a helping hand even when we have to borrow the money to do it. Sure we aren’t perfect, who is? I do feel shining the light on our imperfections will eventually lead to a better and more United “States.” But I feel, it can be done a little more like “Danny”. And if there is any country that can deliver in times of adversity, it is undeniably ours. And the first way to get past the divisiveness is simply to realize. We are all Americans and we are all in this together. We should challenge ourselves to have the worlds’ best health care system, the worlds’ best education system and the worlds’ greatest craft breweries. We are definitely on the way to having the worlds’ greatest craft breweries.
Commentary is not necessarily the opinion of the Civil Life Brewing Company but it is the opinion of the Captain of the Barley Ship which may or may not be the opinion of the Civil Life Brewing Company. Basically, if you like this post the comments are the opinion of the Civil Life Brewing Company and if you don’t like this post, the comments are not the opinion of the Civil Life Brewing Company.
Comments have been disabled for this post. Please put your opinions on your own blog.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.