Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here´s a randomly organized post with some initial thoughts

While I very much enjoyed my trip to the US, I was equally happy to return home to Colombia. I wouldn’t say that my emotions were akin to the first time I returned to London after being out of the country (which was when London started feeling more than just a temporary home), but I would say that I was pleased to be coming home and back to my normal life. In fact, my greatest sensation might just have been one of relief. I have yet to fully puzzle that out aside from this observation: my detachment from American culture is that which enables me best to analyze and evaluate it objectively.

I know the airport is not the best place to judge the average American, but if the behavior I witnessed during that trip is any indication, then Americans are ruder and generally more obnoxious than your average Colombian or European. I mean, I witnessed several people really behaving badly at a Sbarro in Miami, others complaining about things that clearly weren’t worth the effort, and one woman who was so starkly ignorant, loud, and uncultured, that Diana and I and everyone else sitting in our area were clearly embarrassed for her. And you wonder why foreigners criticize Americans as being loud, uncultured, arrogant asses.

At any rate, it never ceases to amaze me that you can leave a truly luxurious world and 3.5 hours later, you can land in a developing nation with tragically severe poverty and conflict issues. If you look at the world from above, you see land and trees and oceans, and rivers. There is no division. We draw lines and divide up the world. What makes us so different? What makes us so damn fortunate?

Ultimately, we have every advantage yet too few take notice of just how privileged they are. And it saddens me to think I come from a world of self-absorbed people with little interest or concern for that which lies outside their demesnes. Yet, at the same time I am reminded of the central position of the realist, a line that ultimately should be the guiding light in every endeavor, “See the world as it truly is, not how you want it to be.”

To do that one must realize that a world in which 80% of Fox News viewers believe that we found Nukes in Iraq is unsustainable. A world in which the majority of Americans can’t point out North Korea on a map is equally unsustainable. And a world in which we don’t, as a culture, as a people, live up to the creed written on the steps of the Statue of Liberty, in essence turning our back on one of the founding principles of our nation, is ultimately undesirable.

Even living outside of the US for the better part of 3 years, I have never felt disconnected or free of American culture. Some ex-pats leave the US and have little intent of ever returning. I’ll not judge them for their choice. Indeed, I understand it, probably better than some of those who divorce their country and remarry into a totally different culture. But that’s not me. My sadness in relation to my country makes me want to try to change that which I see. What forms my efforts shall take or are taking remain unclear. But I shall not shy away from my culture of origin. I shall return at some point and I can only hope to make my influence felt.


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