zird is the word (lizardek) wrote,
zird is the word

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Yesterday, at book group, one of the women asked us to help with an experiment her daughter was doing for school. She is asking everyone she knows to write a few words or sentences about what they think of America. Not Americans—AMERICA.

She's drawn a map of the U.S. on a big piece of paper and she's putting all the notes that are BY Americans inside the confines of the country, and all the notes that are by NON-AMERICANS outside of the penciled country borders.

I joked that my view of America has been revised rather drastically since November 4th.

There were 11 women in the room. 8 of us were American, 1 was Australian (though she was born in America), and 2 were Canadians, both of whom consider themselves practically American since they have spent many years in the States. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before I could ask if I could read the other notes (all of which were anonymous, but marked with nationality).

Growing up in a military family is a real object lesson in indoctrination. It's very hard to pull away from a rah-rah we're the best attitude that permeates so much of your surroundings as a child, and even though I have always had a healthy dose of skepticism (cue Mom's laughter), I confess to finding it hard to shake that immediate patriotic frisson that shivers through me when the National Anthem plays or when I see the American flag.

My view of America and what I have always believed it stood for has become rather intrinsically entwined with what the country's GOVERNMENT is doing and has done and that has made it very hard for me to be proud of my country or my nationality in some ways, which has been a very divisive feeling at the core of my identity. Despite everything, I want to be proud of my country, and I want to be proud of the things it ostensibly stands for.

I thought it was an interesting experiment, and a bit provocative, and that it would be interesting no matter which nation you substituted for America in the equation, if you were a national of the country in question. How do you, as a member of it, see your own country versus how a foreigner sees it?

Part of the problem with America is that it is SO huge and so diverse that it's difficult to pin down exactly what I think about it. When I started writing down my thoughts I found that the second one contradicted the first and the fourth one contradicted the third and so on; yet they were ALL TRUE opinions about how I view my country. I kept scratching things out and re-writing. I also found that some of what I thought about AMERICA was, despite trying to differentiate, more applicable to what I thought about AMERICANS.

What do YOU think about America? If you don't feel comfortable airing your views under your own name, feel free to comment anonymously, but please mention what nationality you are. I'll go first.


Big Ole Bunches of Birthday Wishes to dbrus!
Tags: americanabroad
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