Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Survival Fact #1: Bush is Not Your Fault!!

If you are an American abroad, you will find yourself in the position of explaining alot things going on in the States that alot of people don't agree with. Now this will happen to you at some point when you start making friends in your host country. I will leave the chimp bashing on my other blog as I realize politics swing both ways for my readers. But that doesn't take away the fact that this WILL happen.

For example, I was enjoying my first night out with some employees of mine at a discotheque in downtown San Jose. We had all become friends at work and I was curious to experience the nightlife after being cooped up in my apartment for two weeks. After "sampling" a couple of Imperials, the national beer, one of my friends decided to make the observation that my beer of choice fit nicely with the fact that I was an American.

At first I didn't get it, thanks to that delicious ambrosia of a cervesa. I mean this beer is good, like every other thing under the country's strict food laws, this was REALLY 100% natural beer. There are only four freaking ingredients on the bottle!

But then it dawned on me, partly due to the bit of an embarrassing pause after he said it. "Imperial", I read off the bottle. "Huh? What are you trying to say Manuel?" I asked rather buzzedly.

"Your president thinks he can take over the whole world and be cheered at. How did you people elect him TWICE?"

I explained to him that I was in fact lying in bed for two days after he was re-elected. Didn't eat anything. Didn't say anything. Just lied there in a surreal combination of denial, ennui, and paranoid bewilderment. My girlfriend at the time was seriously considering calling someone to fetch me for a white padded holiday.

So after a while, I was able to get the scene laughing again. I explained that alot of my reasons for leaving the US were the strange changes and my president. But here is where my experience can help YOU. Alot of American world travelers have resorted to stitching Canadian flags to their backpacks as to avoid any prejudice.

Don't do that.

We had a founding father named Benjamin Franklin who was the very first face our country put forward diplomatically. He lived in France during his time in office as our envoy, and he lived there for close to ten years. He used that time to communicate exactly what was the American character and our ideals. He would often show up at functions wearing raccoon skins like Davy Crockett or in just casual clothes which were the equivalent of jeans and a t-shirt for the time. And all the while, he would talk about the inherent Right of man to be a free thinking and self determined individual. Rumor has it the ladies were quite fond of this pudgy, bespectacled, long haired, but razor sharp ruffian too. As a result, the image of America was forged as such and stayed with us right up until just recently.

It's your job to take that image back. Over the years, our philosophies and ideals combined with our incredible diversity has given us "super power" status (I still can't fly). But we are still at heart the fun loving free spirited pranksters who would rather throw the tea in the harbor than pay taxes on it. As soon as our culture gets back to those roots, we will be just fine. And being outside the country, you have the opportunity to "walk the walk" as it where and show everyone that we are a country of different voices and the loudest ones right now aren't exactly speaking for all of us.

I hope this helps!


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Anonymous said...

Well put. I just found your blog. I'm stunned you don't have more readers!