Eighteen months into this adventure and I have longings for home — a bit of homesickness, I suppose. I mostly miss my children and close friends, then the rest can be summed up in one word — familiar. I miss the familiar language, common memory, faces, places and really just the sense of belonging that familiarity brings.
These feelings are mixed with my feelings of disillusionment with America. Yes, I’m disillusioned with America and I should just put it out there. I’ll write this as a way for me to process the thoughts in my head. So if you want to follow my process, read on and perhaps consider if there is any sense to my thinking. If not, I don’t expect agreement and there’s probably something on Facebook that’s way more interesting! 😋
The opportunity for a change of perspective is the most valuable and persistent thing that I’ve gained during my time in Europe. I’ve been able to see my home country through a different lens and it’s been enlightening. Good questions are asked of me and topics are debated with curiosity and a desire to learn and understand. I’ve learned so much about world history, culture, economics and social justice in a much broader scope outside of the American view of the world. This view, by the way, is the indoctrinated belief that America is the best. The greatest nation on earth . . . 🤔
Events in the US this past year have been incredible, even surreal. To witness them from afar with a changing perspective, has been interesting to say the least. I’m often shaking my head over the behavior of Americans and the American president. 😧 I’m incredulous over the protracted arguments and defensiveness of opinions that are at best marginally based on facts. I’m not getting this impression just from the news (let’s leave fake news out of this). I’m mostly getting this impression from social media and straight from words, actions and fully transcribed accounts. I read the shared fb posts, Twitter feeds and transcripts of interviews and speeches. I don’t see enough reasoned discourse and intelligent debate over politics and national issues. Instead, there are strident defenses, flaming accusations, ignorant comments and knee jerk reactions. What I see is a willingness to bargain away character, respect, decency and intellect for the promise of easy wins, comfort zones, independence and the good ol’ American way.
This started before I left the country and before the 2016 presidential election; I get that. The decisiveness and decline has been in progress for years. The thing is, my point of view has changed since I’ve been in an international environment. I admit that before I moved abroad, I didn’t think hard about many national issues. And I didn’t think too hard about the lack of reasoned discourse. I eschewed CNN, FoxNews and media sound bites (still do). I spent a lot less time on social media and let’s face it, the spot light on national politics was a bit smaller.
The 2016 presidential election was a watershed for the reputation of America, from my point of view. If you don’t think so, come on over to Europe and have coffee with a native. They will ask you what you think about Trump, how could a guy like this get elected, how unpredictable or unstable he is and how long do you think he will last. Some Europeans are familiar with crooks and corrupt governments, but that doesn’t happen in the USA where the presidents have been respected world leaders (albeit tarnished by the occasional scandal). There is legitimate concern about the global economy, commitment to alliances and nuclear war. There is a perception that Americans not only don’t understand world politics and history, they don’t even understand their own. The election of Donald Trump and reactions to recent national events prove the point. Many Americans do not have a good grasp of civics, the constitution and American history. One of my friends used the phrase “vortex of stupidity” and I think he was on to something. People are easily duped because they don’t know the facts. I don’t like to get into comment battles on social media 🤐, but sometimes it’s difficult to hold my tongue when historical facts are completely distorted or misrepresented to make a point about current events. 😖
Guess what, America is not the best in many, many ways. I won’t get into an in-depth comparison of Europe and the United States; there is no best country and every nation has it’s challenges and flaws. But it’s difficult to resist the temptation to compare. We have enjoyed a lot of the differences and will miss them very much in the future. The Netherlands is more advanced in agriculture, civil engineering, clean energy, affordable health care and public transportation to name a few. It’s SAFE here. Crime is so low prisons have been closed and repurposed. Much of Western Europe has a high standard of life. Did you know there is mandatory paid family leave in Europe? I could go on . . . But yes, the taxes are much higher and one could argue that the government controls too much. Yes, there are ongoing issues about immigration and how to assimilate new immigrants. Yes, there are also nationalists movements here. Yes, there is terrorism here, too.
I don’t have any magic solutions to Americas ills, but I do think that part of solution is altruism — a willingness to make sacrifices for the common good and concern for the welfare of ALL people. This isn’t socialism people; this is citizenship and in my opinion (based on my understanding of the facts), it’s a biblical mandate. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I guess that’s enough of a mind dump for now. I’m really looking forward to being with family in the US for Christmas celebrations! 🎄 I think we will be forced to think and talk about our transition back to American life in six months. Gulp! 😲