Not German Know-it-alls

Germans believe in norms. Conformity, uniformity. Rectitude, righteousness. Accommodation, assimilation. Subordination, subsidiarity. If the law states that adults may not ride their bicycles on the sidewalk, then German adults do not ride their bicycles on the sidewalk. Doing otherwise breaches, transgresses, goes against the law, order, against agreements made which are then communicated in the form of a law. The breach demonstrates a lack of respect, of making oneself more important than the others.

In public spaces – such as automobile, bicycle, pedestrian traffic – Germans feel responsible for each other, allowing them, expecting of them, to point out to others what they are doing wrong, which could injure them or others. Just as one would help an older person carry their packages across a busy street, so to one would point out to a parent who forgot to put a bicycle helmet on their child’s head.

Germans believe in having a high degree of collective responsibility. They show concern for, look after, the people around them. Germans do not believe in leaving others alone to suffer the consequences of their own avoidable failures. Both the individual and the group is responsible for the individual. The weak – or less informed – should be supported with “Rat und Tat”, literally advice and action.