I’m proud to be an American, but just not proud in the way that you would think.
I am not proud of American Politics. I appreciate the accomplishments of the Founding Fathers. What they created in the Constitution is something in which to truly marvel. It is a loose frame that has kept America together longer than most democracies. Yet our two party system is drifting to extremes and is clearly no longer working to keep the country in the Center.
I am not proud of American Imperialism. I am not looking to “Make America Great Again.” I appreciate that the United States wanted to help out on the world stage when human rights were threatened and democracies were at risk. Many noble men fought elsewhere to protect the rights of the innocent. Yet there are many cases in which America’s need for resources and dominance has only led to destruction.
I am not proud of American Commercialism. I will admit that I have a small obsession with reality television. I will admit I will forever be wed to my iPhone and other Apple products. Yet at the same time I despise the throw away culture that was created by those American commercial geniuses.
I am proud of where I’m from. I mean the place, the location, the landscape.
I could talk your ear off all night of what it is like to drive from Seattle to Boston. The vista of wide open spaces, dotted by farms gives way to massive expanses of forests that gently reach up to touch the Rockies. Over the Continental Divide are the Great Plains, the great expanse of the Bad Lands, and then tamed Midwest. As you drive through the heartland you eventually reach the oldest mountains in America, the scrappy low lying Appalachians. Slowly you descend into Old New England as she clings to the edge of the continent, fighting back the storms that always seem to come her way.
As you move from West to East our dialect changes, our words are different, and our culture morphs. The ecosystems are many, leading to a diversity of plant and animal life that is mind blowing. That is the America I love. That is what I am proud of.
Living abroad as an American can be difficult sometimes. So when I get caught in a conversation with others that turns toward America, or when I overhear a group of locals talking about die Amerikanen, I get a bit anxious.
There are many things in which we can agree that America clearly needs to work on. I’m not a big fan of the Common Core or the AP History and English curriculum. I totally hear you about the Trump thing!
But America is my home. It is family.
And just like my family, America is full of things both equally awesome and things I would rather not ever see again. I live far from my family but it doesn’t mean that I don’t love my family. I can complain about my family; it is my family. But if you aren’t part of my family, then you have no right to really complain. And if you aren’t part of my family, if you haven’t truly lived with us, become one of us, then how can you even have an opinion?
For all its faults, American is who I am. I choose not to live in America. I choose not to raise my child in America. That is the choice I make for my own reasons. And I think my little arrangement with America works quite nicely. America and I do well when we only see each other once or twice a year.
What I find difficult are all of the opinions people have about said Americans. I might be one, but we are a ridiculously diverse family. One American is not all Americans.
What I find difficult is the word “American” used to describe anything loathsome.
“I hated working at that school because it was too American.”
“That policy is clearly American.”
“The way he dresses is soooo American.”
“Whenever I eat there, I feel like I just stepped into America.”
I get your point, really I do. But I don’t really want to be a part of that conversation. You are talking about my family. And when you use “American” as a swear word, ultimately you are swearing at me too.
I am American, not America. I am part of that rich, diverse, and somewhat annoying cultural family. But it is my family.
I am proud to be an American, just not proud in the way that you would think.
Are you ever judged because of your nationality? Do you ever get frustrated by the talk around the lunch table when it turns toward what people hate about where you are from?