Ugh, Politics.

It was during the George W. Bush era that I landed in Paris and stepped into a cab. The driver didn’t speak much English and I wasn’t as adept with the French language as I am today, but I gave him a paper with my hotel’s address written on it and we were off on our way.

The French cab driver, in his broken English, asked. “From England?”

“No, we’re from California. American.”

“Oh! American! President Bush…thumbs-up_318-31579…or…thumbs-down-right??” (he did that with his hands as he asked us).

thumbs-down-right“, I gestured while shaking my head and making a sour face.

The cab driver smiled a huge smile. “HEEEEYYY!!!! hahahahahahhaha!!!!! “thumbs-down-right“,he laughed jovially, letting us know that we were A.O.K in his book.

We laughed, too. It was an amusing situation. It would appear we had made a new friend in Paris.

This isn’t a blog about politics, but I did want to talk about politics a little bit. When you’re from a country that is under such a spotlight on the world stage, as I am, seemingly everybody in the world has opinions on my country’s politics.

Look. I get it. The United States is an incredibly powerful country and the things we do in this country have an often profound impact on what happens in the rest of the world. I’m also acutely aware that my country’s reputation isn’t always sunshine and roses, especially among certain nations and populations.

The media, doing what the media always does, often puts the worst possible spin on things because it makes for a more interesting story, and as a result, better ratings.

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time on the internet, but I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about how awful we Americans all are.

Actual things I have observed foreigners saying about my country:

  • “The United States is a fascist, right-wing country.”
  • “All Americans are obsessed with guns.”
  • “I would be afraid to travel to the U.S. because I’m afraid of getting shot.”
  • “I have no interest in traveling to the United States because the culture there is horrible.”
  • “Americans don’t care about the rest of the world.”
  • “Americans don’t know anything about what’s going on in the rest of the world.”
  • “Americans are uneducated idiots.”

At the risk of exposing myself politically on a blog that has nothing to do with politics, I’m going to tell you that these opinions are not only small-minded and short-sighted, but they are also wrong.

Yes, we have our narrow-minded individuals who are screaming at the top of their lungs about kicking out immigrants and shooting anything that moves, but honestly, those people are a minority. Most people in this country just want to live their lives, love their children, and be happy. Most people in this country, no matter which way they vote, do so in an honest attempt to do what’s best for this country and the world.

So you saw some video on the internet of some crazy person spewing hateful comments while wearing an American flag t-shirt.

Where did they even find that person? Oh, no. This is what people think of my country. This is who they think we are.

These are the thoughts I have when I see those videos.

And also…we’re not all a bunch of crazy people. Don’t let the media form your opinion!

I’m about as liberal as it gets, and my political opinions come from a place of wanting what’s best for my country and for the world. I care about others. I want others to succeed and thrive. I want our country to take care of our sick, and our elderly, and our children. I welcome immigrants and have a keen interest in the outside world at large.

I am not alone in these feelings.

With everything that has been going on in my country’s politics lately, I’ve increasingly been feeling the need to stand up and defend the United States from all the haters out there.

Look, I’m disgusted too by what’s happening in this election. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m terrified. If Trump wins this presidency, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I suppose I’ll have to deal with it because my husband and I have been building a life for ourselves here and we have aging relatives to think of, so as much as I would like to go full vagabond and high-tail it out of here, it’s more complicated than that.

I love this country. I was born here. I grew up here. My friends are here. My memories are here.  Not only that, but there are a whole lot of wonderful people here. People who care about the planet, who care about others, who want to make the world a better place. We have highly educated people, people who contribute amazing things to science and literature and art. We have all races and religions and so many cultures in this country. It is a vibrant place with amazing natural wonders, beautiful cities, delicious food, and friendly people.

Please don’t hate us because of our politics.

It’s complicated. Your average American really doesn’t have much say in the way the country is run. Most of us feel just as helpless and scared as the rest of the world. I’ve had so many conversations with people about how we’re all just sitting around in disbelief about what is happening. We can’t believe it either. All we can do is vote and hope it makes a difference.

My country has done things that I find deplorable. My tax dollars that are automatically taken out of my hard earned pay have funded things that I don’t agree with. I feel a little helpless to do much about it though. I’m only one person, and I’m not particularly wealthy or powerful. I can only be the best example of a person that I can be.

A lot of us feel that way.

I don’t really know what to do other than vote my conscience and urge others to do the same and speak out whenever I see bad things happening.

Anyway, I suppose I’m ranting a bit.

Look. We’re all people. We’re all the human race. Most people are inherently good and kind. Yes, there are horrible people out there. There are good and bad people in every country on Earth. Ours just seem to get a lot of attention.

Don’t be afraid to travel to the United States. Don’t judge all Americans by the actions of a few. That’s all I ask.


2 replies »

  1. Nice post. I’ve found in my travels around the world that it’s not the people who are the problem, it’s the governments. As you said, we all want the same things: to love our friends and families, to live in peace, and to pursue happiness. Good luck to all of us!


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