Something happened...I can't say precisely when...but somewhere along the way my dissent turned to bitter shame.
I think it began in Israel during that ill-fated trip nearly ten years ago. Although I had no way of knowing how much deeper my disgust would one day be. I recall being disturbed at the site of McDonalds and various other American fast-food chains. I was also considerably confused as to why the Israeli's held America in such high esteem. Of course, I had little knowledge of American Politics at the time. Otherwise, I may have better understood. Israel simply wouldn't exist were it not for America's support.
Since then...I feel like I've existed in this apathetic stupor, not fully understanding my own discomfort, yet knowing that I was anything but proud of my heritage. I never cared about the goings on in Washington...why should I? These things didn't affect me. Like so many Americans, I floated along in my impenetrable little bubble, paying little attention to what transpired within, let alone beyond, our borders.
Then George W. and 9/11 happened...and our subsequent preemptive wars. Something in me shifted and my apathy turned to vehemence. I marched on Market Street, screamed in disagreement and marveled at the media's mistelling of things. My sudden, intensely emotional involvement confused me, but I did my best to embrace it. I even voiced my heavily opinionated views on my extended family's website, thinking it was a safe place to vent, only to find that MY OWN FAMILY supported Bush. They did not take kindly to my rants and what followed was a grossly imbalanced and sad exchange between myself and a few Aunts and Cousins. My relationship with them suffered seemingly irreparable damage and I'm not sure it will ever recover. I'm sure my 'family' was as ashamed of me as I am of this country. What irony! I suppose like the details of ones citizenship, biological family members are not something we consciously choose. Nevertheless...that war of words gave me a platform to really explore my beliefs and only served to strengthen my convictions.
My recent trip to Asia delivered the final, substantial blow...like ice-cold water disturbing my already fitful slumber. I remember the inclination to be defensive when confronted with the almost pungent distaste for Americans. But I also felt far more compelled to agree with them and subsequently expose them to the redeeming aspects, namely, those of us who are deeply opposed to the way our government shapes things. I wanted all those other travellers to know that not ALL Americans were shameful, ignorant creatures. But...in all honesty...who can really blame them for thinking so? I just truly disliked the immediately judgmental response I experienced upon revealing my nationality. It was a somewhat snide, cynical chuckle that implied...'Riiight...a yankee. Let's see what you have to say...' I always felt like I was starting off with imbalanced footing...like I had no choice but to prove my worth AND prove them wrong.
There were times when I was tempted to lie and claim to be Canadian, simply for the SIMPLICTY of it. But, alas, I was with Patrick who is fiercely proud of his heritage and doesn't take lightly to people hiding beneath Canada's good name. Apparently, it's a common occurrence...American travellers sew Canadian patches to their backpacks to avoid what seems to be a universally negative reaction. I couldn't pretend to be from Canada...but that's when I decided that I WOULD be...someday.
The recent election proved it...If more than half the nation can proudly say they voted for Bush, then...this truly is not my country. I simply do not identify with blind patriotism and backwards religious beliefs that exclude anyone but heterosexual, Christian Republicans.
I don't want to fight that battle any longer. Perhaps it reveals a cowardice in me...but I don't want the shameful association that now comes with the passport I carry. I can't do anything about where I come from, but I can damn well change that fate for my children. Yes...I know the US has it's redeeming aspects...but my aforementioned opinions overshadow everything else for me. It's time to move on...
'There's this brutal imperial power that my passport says I represent, but it will never represent where my heart lives...only vaguely where it went.' -Ani DiFranco 2003