What is it With the Swiss?

Whether you are a fan of the Swiss or not, you would probably agree that they have a unique social order. I have heard it put this way, “Switzerland is a country that just works”.  The trains are on time. The streets are clean. The children are orderly.  The alimony checks arrive on time?

And it appears that the Swiss are happier than people in many other places.

… the research community supports Switzerland’s idyllic image. The country has consistently been either the first or the second happiest country in the World Happiness Report, which incorporates factors like GDP per capita, life expectancy, and perception of corruption.

The mainstream explanation is that the Swiss see their country more as a community than an abstraction. And the Swiss are fiercely loyal to that community.  They invest in it and make it work.

There is a downside, of course.  Ubiquitous standards guarantee uniformity rather than celebrate diversity. And that can be bad news for outsiders, or anyone else that dares not to fit in.

The trade-off is an interesting one –  does one have to sacrifice diversity for more tightly knit community?

Any thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “What is it With the Swiss?”

  1. Mon vieux, you know I have thoughts on this! There is a lot of truth to your analysis, but although “uniformity” is the linguistic opposite of “diversity” those words describe different things here. Huh? Diversity suggests the racial makeup of the country, and at least in Geneva you see plenty of ethnic and racial groups, and I would guess that CH is more diverse than most countries. The uniformity suggests the social standards of the country — cleanliness & precision, as you said, or following laws. Conformity may be more accurate.

    World Happiness Report? Oh puhlease! You see more joy in the faces of the desperately poor in Haiti.

  2. Yes, I did think this would raise an eyebrow on your part, my friend. You have a good point about smiling faces. The Swiss are perhaps more in the “satisfied” than the “jolly” category. If you want jolly, go to western Austria or Italy. And conformity is the right word. They are not alone in demanding this. The Swedes come to mind as do the Finns (who were influenced by the Swedes).

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