It’s rather a weird story. And not your average one.
I, like so many other Americans, started to feel a little out of sorts during the height of the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why are we there? Are we actually helping? Are we doing more harm than good? What business do we have in countries that did nothing to us? Typical questions that we still only have speculative answers to.
I don’t mean to get overly political, but these were the types of questions I asked myself as well as many others. I would watch the news and be disgusted. I thought of my own country as a big gang of bullies who told other nations how they should do things because we know better. YUCK!
Until I went to live overseas in the U.K. The English people as a whole were very nice to me. They were always accommodating and never had a bad thing to say to me simply because I’m an American. Except for one asshole in a bar who told me Americans like to start wars. Which I found more comical than offensive because he was fucking English. How many wars did they instigate? How many colonies did they conquer and terrorize for hundreds of years during the height of the British Empire? Beside the point, and back on track. The ones who really gave me problems were the other foreign students.
I told a girl from Greece that I wanted to study why education in the U.S. was faltering when it comes to teaching history. She claimed that there was no need because the rest of the world already knows that about us. AKA: Americans are universally dumb.
I told a girl from Canada that I was rather proud that our Navy Seals got Bin Laden. She claimed it was all nonsense because we “deserved what we got on 9/11.” I nearly reached for her from across the dinner table. Friends had to stop me. No really, they did.
I told a Scotsman in Edinburgh that I was carrying around my passport as identification because my Colorado ID at the time wasn’t sufficient as a way of showing my age overseas. He claimed that I was pathetic and no one wants to know that I’m an American I shouldn’t tell people. (Which almost erupted in a fist fight…again… I’m not afraid of some bulky Scotsman. Not ONE bit.)
It wasn’t until I left my country and lived overseas that I found myself constantly defending it. Not because I was a proud American at the time, but because I don’t want to listen to people who have a perception of something based on what they saw on the BBC or any other news network. Particularly because I almost went into Journalism and I know how bad those fields are at portraying anything accurately if it doesn’t please advertisers.
I have what I like to call the Brother/Sister syndrome. It applies as a metaphor for this scenario.
My brother and I don’t particularly get along. I have to hide food in my room because he will pillage it even though he didn’t buy it. I have to avoid certain topics because he is more concerned about winning a debate than actually being right. (I’m a bitch for saying it, but it’s true). Basically, we are passing ships in the night. I will call him a jerk and an asshole and he will call me a spoiled little brat. And that is how we roll most days that don’t involve a family emergency, birthdays or holidays. Those are the occasions when we are quite civil and make an extra effort to be so.
But let me tell you something… if someone ELSE outside my family calls my brother an asshole or a jerk, they better have brought some ice along with them because they’re about to get a very fat lip.
That’s how I started feeling about my country. I am allowed to point out its flaws and everything it so OBVIOUSLY needs to work on. But the second someone from another country tries telling me that my country is flawed, a bully, stupid, and overall lesser in ways they don’t understand… I WILL GIVE THEM A FAT LIP. It made angrier than anything else in the world.
In conclusion, I have grown to love my country. It’s flaws and all. Because just like everyone else, we are trying to make things better. We do well. We fail. And sometimes we fuck up beyond all recognition. But at the end of the day, I would rather be an American than any other nationality. And I think that most people feel the exact same way about their country of origin. (Maybe not, but most people I have met feel this way). And there was no other feeling in the world quite like flying home and crossing over the American border. The feeling of being “home,” doesn’t even come close to describing how overwhelmingly joyful it was to me.