It’s made me wonder at my own reaction and question whether or not I feel appropriately about my American passport. Should I love it or should I shun it?
I’ve not given it a lot of thought before… which is odd since I live overseas and field questions once a week from people comparing – either favorably or unfavorably – their country to mine. It’s either, “Can you get me a green card to America? Ask your father if he can find me a job.” Or “Yea, no wonder you moved over here… the US is a pretty crappy place, huh?”
I’ve never really considered my “Americanness” something to be bemoaned or celebrated. I guess I’ve lumped it into the category of things pre-determined about me. Kind of like being a woman. I didn’t decide to be a woman – that’s how God made me. And sometimes it’s pretty great being a female. Sometimes it’s not. I didn’t choose it… it was something I assume was part of God’s original plan.
Which is why I don’t understand the people frenziedly waving American flags who had nothing to do with catching bin Laden. I’m not joining them for the same reason I don’t post victorious messages under every YouTube video of a woman giving birth. “Yea women! I’m a WOMAN! Women ROCK!” I did not have anything to do with that woman’s pregnancy – never even given birth myself. Why would I celebrate as if I had?
And why does raucous celebration one day and taking pride in an event I contributed nothing to make me a “better American” than the person who works their job quietly, pays their taxes, and tries to help solve some of the crises in our country – like kids in the foster care system or homelessness?
But, then again, I don’t really understand the “pretend I’m from Canada” people either. Just like being a member of the female population isn’t always fabulous; neither is being identified as an American. I feel the same way about watching an errant countryman as I do when I saw women from the Playboy Penthouse on a talk show. They were discussing how fabulous it was to be a “professional escort” and how servicing so many different men made them feel more like a woman. Seriously? I thought. There are some women who actually feel like that? I don’t understand. It doesn’t make me want to hide the fact that I’m a woman. It doesn’t make me want to become a man.
So when I watch videos of Americans exalting in their revenge via Navy Seals or read triumphant “AMERICA RULES THE WORLD” Facebook posts, I think, “Seriously? There are some Americans who actually feel like that? I don’t understand.” It doesn’t make me want to hide the fact that I’m American. It doesn’t make me want to become Canadian. (Although Australian…)
Maybe it’s a sign of my status as an extremely individualistic 20-something that I expect to be judged on my own personal merits and not on someone’s predefinition of what an American (or woman, for that matter) should be like. Maybe it’s a sign of my generation’s “globalizedness” that I can admit, “Hey – my country’s got problems and good points just like almost every other country in the world”. Maybe I’m just weird.
A Facebook contact recently said he was worried that my generation doesn’t see America as “good” anymore. Seriously? I think. Some Americans think like that? That our country is fundamentally, without question ‘good’ (whatever that means… Morally? Ethically? Politically?) and deserves my constant adulation? I don’t understand.
So while I’ll keep telling people here that America isn’t a bad place and there’s plenty about it I miss – I won’t be encouraging everyone I know to move there. And while I feel a sense of relief at the fact that bin Laden won’t be plotting against the world anymore, being American isn’t all-defining about me in such a way that I can celebrate as one who’s finally tasted revenge.
But I will be keeping my American passport and gladly present it to the customs officials when I return, thankfully, home.