Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I have been thinking about this post a lot, and I was a bit hesitant to make it. I lack confidence that I will actually be able to articulate my point clearly. But, I think this is important and needs to be said (not that others have not already made these observations). So, here it goes.

I am thankful for my nation of origin. I am incredibly thankful to have a United States passport. I do not take it for granted. I am well aware that it affords me a lot of opportunities and spares me a lot of grief and cutting through red tape. I am thankful that I grew up in a country that values freedom of expression and press and the right to assemble. I am thankful that America allows people to have different opinions, and not only are people allowed to have them but they are also able to express them. I am thankful that I can say I am displeased with a social institution and not fear that I will be imprisoned or tortured for expressing my displeasure. These are wonderful things.

I hail from the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But, I must say that being on the outside looking in during this last election cycle made me feel pretty gross. I will admit that it was pretty nice being able to escape mud-slinging political ads and relentless phone calls from the Gallup polls. In case you are curious, I did watch all 3 presidential debates in their entirety, and I did vote. I also watched the election returns roll in on a friend's iPhone while I was attending a meeting--a meeting where there were more nationalities than I have fingers present. I cared deeply about this election because I care deeply for both my nation and my world.

And, I think that is where the feeling of grossness comes in because in being an outside observer I realized how little my nation--not the government, the nation--cares about the world. Okay, I admit that this is a bold statement. You can stop reading now if you want. I understand.

For those of you still with me, I shall continue. I was surprised and amazed how very much my international community cared about the results of this election, how very much they were informed about the candidates, how very much they watched and/or read commentary about the debates, how very much they supported a candidate for whom they could not vote...and how very little their countries were even acknowledged throughout the election process...

Admittedly, I watched the foreign policy debate and was incredibly disheartened by the utter lack of foreign policy discussed. Here is an interesting article if you want a different perspective. And, I actually sat with some of my friends whose countries America considers allies but were not mentioned once in the foreign policy debate. I explained to them that the candidate debated on issues that are important to the American majority. It deeply saddens me that this means issues such as global trade, human rights violations, climate change, aid and development policies, and others were largely ignored. The reality is that the United States does play a key role in world. We have power and influence...and responsibility.

I question whether we are appropriately stewarding that responsibility when entire continents were omitted from a foreign policy debate, when party lines result in stalemates rather than opportunities for collaboration and shared understanding, when my facebook feed is littered with comments about the "anti-christ" and moving to Canada (where in case you did not know, they have socialized healthcare), when people are perfectly content to place blame rather than promote change. That's my rant. I shall stop now. Well, I shall stop after one last comment...

The truth is that the world is much, much bigger than you, America.


  1. having just come from the ICOM (International Conference of Missionaries) I have to disagree with this post. The government, its policies, and the topics that get chosen for debates do not always reflect how vast numbers of people truly feel. You would have enjoyed the conference. Thousands of people from all over America and the globe, fighting for human rights, and other global issues. We are not perfect, but no one should ever say that we don't care.

  2. It isn't fair to say that all of America doesn't care, but sadly the majority doesn't seem to see anything other than themselves and what benefits them. I too was grossed-out in more ways than I can count Heather.