The Best Country in the World

 Blue water in Turkey (by Peter Santenello)

I’m in one of my favorite countries at the moment: Turkey. A huge bonus to living in Ukraine is that the world is so close. In roughly a couple of hours, I can be in over twenty countries; this is still an almost unbelievable reality coming from California where the world feels like a galaxy away.

Last night my girlfriend and I were looking for dinner while walking along the waterfront in the quiet Mediterranean seaside town of Cirali.

A conversation opened up with a restaurant owner.  Small talk about his catch of the day turned into a nationalistic rant about Turkey...  “Turkey is the best country in the world… Turkey has the best flag… Turkey has the best food… Turkey has the best history… the best land for agriculture, Turkey, Turkey, the best, the best….“

We gave him the stage for his entertaining performance; he was serious about making sure we knew his best “facts.” When he was done, I asked him how he knew all of these “best” statements were true.

 Beautiful nature of Turkey

The best rant is nothing new. I’ve seen a version of the best guy in many countries. America has its share of this guy, so does Italy, Russia, Argentina (plenty there), Spain, Canada, China, England, and so on.

I agree: Turkey’s flag is beautiful, its food delicious, its history rich, its climate great for growing things, it’s an amazing place to travel, etc. But the best in everything… what does that even mean?

And from a simple logical perspective, how would someone know if they have the best food in the world if they haven’t tried all the different types of food in the world?

It’s like saying vanilla is the best ice cream flavor without tasting chocolate.

“The best” guy is like a pin on a world map; switch the location of the pin, and he’d preach about his best status in whatever country he grew up in.

If this man was born in China--and watered and fed from an infant to adult there--I'm sure he’d say China has the best geography, the best history, the best flag, and so on.

 National Opera of Ukraine

I’m not sure if this is a nationalistic mentality that needs to claim superiority over others to feel better about themselves. Or if it’s because the best guy is so intellectually myopic that his claims are just a repeat of what’s been preached to him from his home country.

The best never made any sense to me. Statements like: Christianity is the best religion in the world. This food is the best. These women are the best. This music is the best. This ski resort is the best. This economy is the best. This country is the best. The world and humanity are much more complex than that.

The more you get outside of your home country, the more you can compare with other countries to determine what your country is good and bad at. At this juncture you can determine what’s the best. And at that point, it will just be what’s best for you. And what’s the best for you might not be what’s best for me.

 Shiny domes of Ukrainian church

If the number one focus is stability and peace, then it’s hard to beat Switzerland, Norway, or New Zealand. But if you want to live in a culture that’s zesty and socially thriving, it’s not going to be Switzerland, Norway, or New Zealand.

It’s hard to tell that inner-city kid from Chicago that goes to a dangerous school, lives in a crime-ridden neighborhood, and has heroin-addicted parents, that America is the best.

But it might be easy for the tech entrepreneur to say that America is the best.

If Buddhism is your main focus in life, then living in Turkey won’t be the best.

With that said, there are countries that excel more than others and are great places to live. It’s indisputable that Germany is a more attractive place to live for the vast majority people over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Our countries, and the knowledge we’ve received from them mold us all—there is comfort in this. But this doesn’t mean they’re the best.

The more we dissect the information we’ve been conditioned with, the more we can see its flaws and how those truths we grew up with might not be so true anymore.  There’s no one place that’s “the best” for everything.


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