This is a preamble.
I moved to the US from Europe 15 years ago. In fact, this month marks the 15th anniversary, although I forget the actual date. And I only stayed for 6 weeks before going back to wait on my visa, so I guess the real-real move date was November 26th 1998. But it was in August 1998 that I moved with my fiance and got her settled in her new job, and helped put our new apartment together, and discovered the wonders of shopping malls that have everything, and supermarkets with vast and varied selection, and public transport that, even at it's best, was pitiful and allowed for a welcome sense of superiority. It was utterly overwhelming, and wonderful, and breathtaking, and vast and the sky seemed to go on forever and there was a sense of untapped promise and youth, even in the woods and hills of central Pennsylvania.
After the novelty wore off there was sudden, massive culture shock, and with that came rebellion. Everything was wrong for a while, and everyone was annoying and the warmth and openness was suddenly cloying and mawkish. The summers too hot, the winters too cold (who gets frostbite waiting for the bus?!). I grew out of that with the help of a Canadian friend who steered me back on track with a firm hand and the admonishment, "You chose to move here. You can't go on hating on everything. Learn to love the differences or just go home."
He was right, I grew up and life has moved on and me with it. I came here a staunch liberal democrat, a confirmed pacifist and a lifelong Royalist. I was English middle-class to the bone and fiercely proud of my rights and understanding of my place in the world. After all, anyone with any sense knew that God was an Englishman. How times have changed. I'm now a right-leaning libertarian, a staunch republican (not Republican, fuck those guys), and atheist.
I moved here knowing frighteningly little about the US. If I'd've moved to Spain, or Brazil, or anywhere needing me to learn another language I would have taken the time to also learn about the culture and social mores of my new country. But for the US (and I assume the same would be true for Canada or Australia (or even New Zealand)), I didn't have to learn a language, and so made no effort to learn the culture. In the last 15 years I've learned a lot. My republicanism stems from my understanding of the struggles the Founding Fathers went through, the horrors of the Rebellion (the second British civil war it should be known as). I've learned about, and grown to love the Constitution and The Bill of Rights. I love them as both a moral ideal and a physical document espousing truths that were far ahead of their time.
I've got my Green Card, and my carry-permit, and in two years I'll likely have Citizenship. Is America perfect? Hell no. The current (and former) Administration are a shower of lying, murderous wankers, sitting on top of the most inept attempt at buy-your-own-politics the West has seen in a long time. And I don't think it's going to change fast, or soon. But, I do believe that change comes from the people and as soon as I can exercise my right to vote I intend to start helping make change locally and see what I can work to accomplish. Because that's what it means to be an American.
Why I’m Hopeful
1 day ago