Perhaps it’s the distance speaking, but this incident somewhat explains a feeling that I tended to feel in the US: a sort of heightened tension and fear of each other that somehow glues us all together. It’s the old expression “better the devil you know” in operation.
Down here, I’ve noted that people tend to build very high fences around their homes, which to me suggests that they are hiding something from the rest of the world.
The high fences are not interpreted by other Australians as suspicious, but just a way to maintain privacy within the home. There’s no fear of the other at play, it’s more a case of “mind your own business.”
Conversely, at least where I grew up in Wisconsin, fences were kept low and curtains tended to be left open, as if to suggest that we are not afraid to show what goes on inside, and when curtains are drawn then it is a cause for concern.
Down here, most people chose to entertain from home and do so often. Back in Wisconsin, enteraining from home was a special occasion that occurred at most once every quarter.
I must admit that I still bristle at the sight of high fences, but perhaps that will fade in time. I can only hope that the same can be said of the mistrust between Americans towards one another.