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Resisting My New Homeland 

Last week I posted another one of my re-entering America musings on Facebook, the topic being practical ways in which my life has changed since coming home. One of my friends made this comment: “You are still living like a Brit abroad. Embrace your NEW homeland. Immerse yourself in the USA.”

When I read his comment I chuckled to myself because I knew he was right. When reading the news, for example, I sometimes realize I am reacting as if I still live in Britain. It’s only a momentary glitch in my personal matrix, not dissimilar to the feeling of Deja Vu, but it’s there. It’s not unreasonable that I “forget” I’m no longer in Britain. Nor is it perverse to find it difficult being back in America. I lived thirty years in the UK. That’s a big hunk of my adult life. It’s seems only natural to me that some time is needed for readjustment. However, I’m not sure that is what my friend was getting at when he told me to embrace my new homeland. I think he might have been implying that I’m resisting being back, and if he was, then he was absolutely right. I do resist being home. Why?

In part I have a love hate relationship with the United States. While there is so much about the U.S. I love and admire, there is also a good deal that is hard not to hate and disrespect. We elect people to high office who would be laughed off the stage in Europe. Some of our politicians are seriously troubling people with considerable power. Millions of Americans worship weapons and the ideology that justifies them. You would have thought that after twenty school children and six adults were shot dead in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012 something would have changed. It didn’t. As Gary Young of The Guardian pointed out, seven children and teenagers are shot and killed every day in America and that last year there were 283 incidents where four or more people were shot. America has a serious love for weapons and seemingly there is no price too high to pay for that love. Don’t expect any of this to change because of the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Already, gun enthusiasts are defending our open weapon society and Fox News and Republican presidential hopefuls are denying it was a racist attack (either the GOP candidates are being dishonest or they are incredibly stupid, but which ever, they can still be elected to the highest office). Our infrastructure is in need of serious repair. Our federal government is gridlocked. We teach creation fantasies in our schools. We believe in angels. We fight one war after another. We take from the poor and give to the rich. We have Fox News, loved by millions. We can’t send our astronauts into low earth orbit nor can we return them. We are more an oligarchy then a democracy. We…Well, you get the idea. All this was bad enough thirty years ago when I lived here, but after being somewhat insulated through culture, distance, and time, yes, I do resist re-entry.

However, there is another element of my resistance that is certainly less dramatic and perhaps less understandable, but still important to me. When I was living in Britain I liked being a foreigner (and those of you in the UK who know me, know also that I was not hesitant to “play my American card” if I thought it would help). I liked having easy access to historic beautiful cities in Europe (train down to Paris for the weekend, short flight to Barcelona for the week). I liked the cultural and ethnic diversity of London. I liked my last job that enable me to fly around the world, visiting every continent. I liked being exposed to the natural, cultural, ethnic diversity of our world. I loved being on the international stage (yes, I know how pretentious that sounds, but I can’t help it). Coming back to America means that aspect of my life, that identifier in my life, has ended. It’s hard to be an international citizen while living in the United States of America (and I certainly can no long play my American card!). Now I’m just an ordinary American, one of 300 million people on one very big continent with an often times very small view of the planet.

Artist conception of Curiosity rover which landed on Mars August 2012Now, I know much of what I said above is one sided. I listed some troubling things about the U.S. while not mentioning the countries many great qualities. Why? Well, I’m not resisting the good things, and this is already approaching 1000 words. Still, I’m not blind to the good. Some of our universities are the finest in the world. As a people our humanitarian giving at home and abroad is second to known. Our compassion and friendliness is vital and real. Our scientist still win Noble prizes. Our Mars rovers, those who built them, sent them to Mars, and maneuver them on the planet are an amazing success story. Our struggle in the area of human rights, while not complete, is to be applauded. Our creativity, resourcefulness, confidence and hopefulness are not only impressive, but defining.

And, I must add, living in Britain wasn’t all wonder and light. There is much about British society and culture that can drive a sane person to the edge (not least the Tory Eurosceptics and the British obsession with costume dramas (I haven’t watched even one episode of Downton Abby!). And, of course, Europe has its racist, though in most countries they have less access to heavy weaponry (a sad defining element of American life).

So, to those who might care even a little, I beg for patience. I’m settling in to the greater Seattle area. I love the progressiveness of the area. I enjoy being in a church that is not frightened by its own shadow. And while I’m still “coming home”, I suspect I’ll get there eventually.

Copyright © 2015 Dale

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