American guns, French cigarettes

In the USA, roughly speaking, everybody has a gun.  This big awful fact stares you in the face. Europeans find it inexplicable. It’s just so obvious, why don’t the Americans prohibit these killing machines?

In France, roughly speaking, everybody smokes. I’ve arrived for a year, and it’s strange how this fact feels similar.  Americans find it incomprehensible. It’s just so obvious, why don’t the French just quit?

I feel oddly optimistic about these pathologies. Eventually, sloppily, rationality more or less prevails. The Americans will lose their guns one day, and the French will lose their cigarettes. But it will take generations, for habits seep into us, and we come to feel they are part of our identity. I’m sitting outside a bar right now in Vieux Lyon, smoke all around, and the very smokiness adds to that agreeable feeling of Frenchness.

[24 Oct 2017]