France has the best wine in the world. Sweden has the best childcare in the world. Britain has the best television in the world. Brazil has the best football in the world.
We love to tell ourselves stories. I’ve been living in a new country now for two months, and it makes you realise just how much we’re encouraged to buy-in to the stories of a nation.
God’s own country
All countries like to think they’re best – some more than others, perhaps. I do come from Great Britain, after all. Not just good, but Great. But wherever you are, a lot of effort is expended in making you sure you’re where you should be.
‘British Meat’s got the lot!’
That’s what it says on the side of a toy bus I’ve had since childhood. Now my son drives it around the carpet. It’s just one tiny, innocuous example of the recurring mantra that you’re in the right place.
That’s probably a good thing. The last thing we need is millions more dissatisfied subjects, clammering to cross borders. But for anyone who has placed a foot in another country, this refrain becomes a little exposed.
Is it really better here?
Nationalist blasphemy, of course. Everything and everyone around you encourages you towards contentment with the way things are where you live.
Of course Britain has the best political system, the best drivers, the best beer – until, that is, you arrive somewhere where everyone tells you they have the best political system, the best drivers and the best beer. What then?
A place called Sweden
As a new arrival, Swedes have been keen to unveil their envied social system to me. They pay a lot of tax. They’re happy to, because they have the best social care in the world. That’s how it is.
But scratch a bit and their social care isn’t that different to British social care, yet you pay a lot more for it. But hush, don’t tell the Swedes. They’re content with living in the right place.
As for the British, they have the best political system in the world. But hush, don’t… oh.
If you want to cross a border, Is It Your Right To Migrate?