Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes

This article was inspired by Diccon Bewes's Swiss Watching . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.


Learning from the Swiss

“The Swiss franc is strong precisely because it is Swiss: as solid, stable and reliable as the country behind it.”

Famous for its watches, chocolate and cheese, Switzerland has garnered much of the world’s attention and remained a strong nation, despite being landlocked within Europe. With a life expectancy of 82.3 years, the Swiss live the longest of any people except the Japanese. Emphasizing cleanliness and efficiency, the Swiss people serve as a stellar example for all of us.

William Tell and Heidi are the two most famous figures of Switzerland, while Heidi is a fictional character and the existence of Tell is questionable. As a matter of fact, evidence may suggest that Swiss author Johanna Spyri plagiarized German author Hermann Adam von Kamp when creating Heidi. Despite the controversy, the loyal Swiss remain devoted to Heidi and William Tell both as folk heroes and sources of branding.

The Swiss are known for their paradoxes. They are reserved people, yet they social gatherings are important to them. Personal privacy is emphasized, yet they support tight government control. Even though they are wealthy, they tried to hide their wealth. However, Swiss nationalism has kept the country from following the same trends their neighbors did, as the country remains a republic surrounded by monarchies.

Formed from the pact between the cantons Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden, Switzerland has a history of looking out for its citizens and warding off foreign invasions. Under Charles the Bold, Burgundy attempted three times to take the Alpine nation in the Medieval Ages only to be bested by the Swiss army. Only one man – Napoleon Bonaparte – ever managed to successfully invade Switzerland.

Choosing to prepare for the worst, Switzerland is now neutral, yet it maintains a powerful military. Young men must serve in the military, with 10 years of reserve status after service. The power of the Swiss army has proven itself, as Axis powers decimated Europe during World War II and wisely chose not to touch the “Fortress Switzerland.”

Cantons in Switzerland each have their own religion – Catholicism or Protestantism – rather than a state religion. Since 1847, these two religious groups have gotten along relatively well. All new laws many governmental decisions are subject to popular vote. The Swiss have demonstrated wisdom not only in politics, but also in banking. Unlike American banks which take risks, Swiss banks have been highly successful by not taking risks. For the Swiss, cash is the name of the game rather than credit.

In a nearly perfect land, the Swiss have come to understand the importance of trust and privacy. Citizens are willing to sacrifice of themselves for the good of the nation, and neutrality keeps soldiers from having to risk their lives. Pragmatic, efficient and loyal the Swiss people serve as an example for the rest of us. After all, we really can’t argue with the success of these perfectionists.

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