Allow me to forget the life I've made my own
I've held this nation in my hand and yet it's not my home
Allow me just one answer and one reason why
Why this refugee of the family of man must die, tell me why?
Kansas. Closet Chronicles.
Reading the recent news of Eduardo Saverin’s
cowardly defection renunciation of his US citizenship, to avoid paying some 67 million in taxes on the decidedly larger sum that he stands to make in the Facebook IPO, got me to thinking about an exchange I had –on Facebook interestingly enough-last year while I was still claiming Shopping Mall USA as my place of residence. (But not the place of my heart).
It was concerning some political topic-and in my responses, as I am wont to do, I took the opportunity to yet again drag the members of the Tea Party through verbal mud showing my contempt for them. As the discussion went on I had the opportunity to post a comment that went something or other like this:
“No but it did get me the opportunity to live some almost 9 years in Japan, something for which I am forever grateful. The opportunity to live and work overseas, learn the language, and be out and about in their cities in Asia-means more to me than all the gold in the world. Its why I am working and longing to get back there just as soon as I can.”
Which prompted a response from a Facebook friend-acquaintance really, a man older than me who was in the Navy and the E-2 community as I was. He also had the distinction of being the first pilot I ever flew with in a Navy airplane, a long, long, time ago.
Anyway, it seemed that he misinterpreted the spirit of my statement, which I meant as an expression of gratitude, by asking me this question:
“I have read your hateful tirades against the tea party for some time now and said nothing. But I find it very odd that you prefer living overseas to living in the United States. Do you hate your own country that much?”
I responded to him the same way I am responding in a much longer form here: No, I do not hate my country. Not at all-and I don’t understand why you think a preference for a location other that of the lower 48 somehow implies a hatred for the land of my birth. ( As for the tea party-my comments were never hateful. They were factual expressions of a well deserved contempt for a group of fat selfish pigs who are ruining the political environment in America-but more on that later).
I also took the time to point out to him that there are literally tens of thousands of people just like me. Who either found themselves misplaced by birth from the lands and societies that suited them-or as happened in my case, simply outgrew the confines of their mother country, because of the person they had evolved into. That preferred the excitement of dealing with the challenges of overseas living as opposed to the mundane of every day life in suburbia.
I didn’t understand the reason for his question then-and I still don’t understand the question now. Its not hating your country to realize that there are other places in the world that have the things that you want and value. In fact, its more an expression of devotion to one’s country to desire that your own country have those same nice things-since it has the resources to produce them. It simply chooses not to.
Hate my country? Not one little bit. Quite the opposite is in fact true. I love my country-or I would not have spent the entirety of my adult life in its service, in various capacities. Certainly I could never do what Mr. Saverin did-even though I dream every day of the idea of living and working in the “land of the (not so) free, home of the cane”. Certainly if I did not care about my country-I could have made a lot more money and migrated to a career that might have given me better financial opportunities-and skill sets that would make me more employable in a place like Singapore or Hong Kong. I care deeply about the past and the future of the United States.
That does not prevent me however, from being incredibly disappointed with large numbers of my fellow citizens-particularly in the choices they have made in the aggregate- in the last 12 years or so. As group, a large number of my fellow denizens of the land of my birth have failed. They have failed miserably at what should be one of their primary concerns-the nurturing and development of the country as a land of opportunity for all of its citizens, and the improvement of the overall quality of life within the country. Thanks to our incredibly twisted politics-coupled with a basic dumbing down of the average American in terms of what he knows about the history and development of his own country, it has created a situation in the country I find a growing distaste with . That, I hate.
But hate the country itself? Never. I don’t even understand the premise of the statement.
People who don’t care about something, don’t spend 7 years writing about it.
There are things, however, that I have found overseas that I wish my country had. Universal health insurance for example. Companies that are required to fulfill their obligations to their employees. A fair tax system that is not rigged against the middle class. Decent train service/public transportation. Great nightlife without all the hang ups. A more educated electorate. More
docile and obedient freely available women. Just to name a few. Those are a few of the things I have found overseas-that I really like. And I also know the United States will not acquire these anytime soon.
But there are many good things about the United States as well-its land. Its ability to not break apart despite the lunacy of our politics. The fact that, unlike Europe, it is a large land mass with a single national identity. RV’s. Lake Tahoe, US National Parks. Hooters. The list of good things is long.
Could it be improved? Yes it can be. And for that reason I will continue to decry the selfish and ignorant among us who are not committed to making those improvements. It’s only right to do-and rather than the artificial, phony kind of patriotism trotted forth by those same folks-it’s the truly patriotic thing to do. And I will continue to strive to live in locations that have the things that I want. For the immediate future at least, those locations will not be in the United States. Maybe someday it will have them-I tend to doubt it.
Which brings me back to Mr. Saverin. As I said, I could never do what he did. The chasm that doing something like renouncing your citizenship opens up is just too great. And for a lot of reasons-I’ll never be a dual citizen either. Saverin says it’s not for tax reasons-we all know it is.
So while I pride myself on being a citizen of the world-it will always be a blue passport in my travel case.
Here is a story that will probably be illustrative. Many years ago when I first visited Israel, I was extremely taken with the country. Really fascinated by it: the people, the fact that it was the holy land, the accomplishments it had. So much so I researched what it took to perform Aliyah-the chucking of it all and the emigration thereto. ( This was before I had the "privilege" of actually dealing with Israelis) For a Christian-it is much, much harder than many realize. There is, of course, the alternative of converting to Judaism, something that is also not exactly easy. In my own case and mind-it’s impossible. To convert to that religion, and no anti-Semitism is intended-it’s a gap that is too wide, too deep and too unbridgeable. Too many years have been spent in Protestant and Catholic Churches looking up at the image of Jesus on a cross-makes it virtually impossible to do. So I stayed on the particular path I was on. ( With probably more pain than was required had I actually chucked it all for the promised land). For better or worse.
And it’s the same with being an American. It is a fundamental part of who I am-also for better or worse. ( and its both).