Tag Archives: human rights

American Outcast

2 Aug

Yesterday was a bittersweet day. It was the one year anniversary (Prague-iversarry) of the day I moved to Prague. And while a few of my fellow TEFL classmates celebrated this day cheers-ing pivo in Old Town, & a few spent the day looking back on the time they resided in Europe instead of China/Turkey/UAE, I spent it right here in the good old USA.

I spent it reflecting & saying things like ‘On this day one year ago I left’, instead of ‘Wow, I have lived here for a year’. & I don’t like that. 

I have currently been back in the USA for almost 2 months. And while I have watched other friends gracefully transition back into this lifestyle, with their new city apartments & impressive jobs, I just can’t. 

I am well aware I am going through what is called ‘reverse culture shock’. When you travel/move somewhere foreign, you feel first excitement, then sadness/frustration, then eventually content when adaptation comes full circle. And the same pattern happens when you return back to your homeland. In theory. 

Well, if we’re being completely honest right now, dear readers I should have never moved back home. I should have spent 2 weeks visiting family & friends, living on that initial excitement stage & then headed right back to Prague. Because Prague & I, while we suffered through some rough times, were finally beginning to establish that sense of content. My acculturation was well on it’s way.

But then I moved.

& Now it’s too late. Now I’m trapped. Trapped in this sad/angry stage because my time abroad changed me, so much in fact that I realized I do not want to live the American lifestyle right now. So I am fighting so hard against my reverse culture shock hoping that I never reach the final stage where I am more concerned with a Wifi signal than current world events.

This new attitude doesn’t always sit well with others & I have watched again & again how uncomfortable they become around me when I start to bring up things that matter.

Were you always like this?

Or was it just always easier to debate whether Kim Kardashian’s ass was real or not instead of the current situation in Gaza?

I guess our American society just plays it out that way.

Coming from countries where discussing political events ranged from chatting about the flaws of Australia’s Prime Minister over wine, to heatedly explaining the crumbling American school system in bars, to being forced to defend my ‘Americaness’ in front of a firing squad of questions–I experienced it all abroad.

I can remember when I studied in Paris & went out with these guys who mocked American’s shameful geographical knowledge of the rest of the world. I defended & defended, taking offense to the conversation. Then 10 minutes later they casually talked about sports & I was shocked.

“Oh, you Americans,” they said, “always so sensitive!”

& Then it hit me–I was being sensitive. They were simply doing what the French love to do, debate, & I was taking it as a personal attack. They were just making conversation, as heated as it got, but then it was on to the next topic. Yet I was still fuming.

In America, they say to never talk about politics or religion on the first date, or better yet, it any conversational setting.

Why?

usa

Is it because you might have an idea someone else doesn’t share? You may believe in something someone else doesn’t? And in the USA, the land of diversity & opportunity, apparently that just doesn’t sit well. Because what would happen if your pretty little dinner party was ruined because a conservative & a liberal started discussing Obama? Would they sit & listen to each other’s points or would someone have to storm off? 

Why can’t we just TALK?! Not yell, not insult, not ruin the entire evening, but just exchange ideas.

Personally I think we have blanketed everyone so much with ‘acceptance’ ‘political correctness’ that we cover up the fact that deep down we don’t accept each other at all. Instead actors go on homophobic rants & CEOs fling racial slurs & everyone is so shocked. 

There is no medium.

We are so busy trying not to ‘offend’ anyone, because God forbid my opinion should differ from yours! & If it does, then what? We can’t be friends? I automatically hate you forever?

Please do not sell the idea of ‘diversity’ if you will not allow it, or if you cannot handle it. Diversity & a difference of perspective is a good thing. It’s productive! Talking (& actually listening) to someone who has opinions so different from your own forces you to challenge your own beliefs.

Maybe you will even see something in a different light, who knows!

But this will never happen until we learn how to actually debate like the educated, open-minded individuals we are.

Since I have been home I have time & time again tried to debate ideas ranging from gun control, to immigration, to woman’s rights, to Ukraine, to Gaza & I have come across mostly 3 types of people:

1) ‘MERICA, F**K YEAH

“America is the greatest country in the world, everyone wants to be like us because we are the best & most powerful country. You don’t like it here? Get out. We have so many freedoms no where else has! For saying those things about our government (your First Amendment Constitutional right!) you could be killed in some places! [Goes on to regurgitate facts from one news source]”

These people are patriotic to the point of being in dangerously ignorant denial. I am not being anti-American, I am just challenging the system. They are closed off to believing there is a more effective solution than one the USA has adopted. They also don’t understand the idea that media is biased & instead just quote one source. 

I feel like these people think that there is only a spectrum of America on one end & repressed corrupt countries are on the other end. No medium exists. & Nothing higher than America exists. Um, hi have you ever heard of the life quality in Sweden?!

twinkie

(Above: Priorities.) 

2) F**K AMERICA

“I hate this stupid country. I hate the government. I hate the rich, they cause all my problems. I hate the poor, they cause all my problems. I hate my life here. Everything is so corrupt & unfair here. I hate the media, it is brainwashing us. Other countries are so much better than America.”

The complete opposite of type 1, these people have a more anarchist leaning than anything. They see the problems in America & notice the corruption & damage within our countries. They are completely against the government & all it stands for. But to this I ask: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?! They whine about things but still continue the problem. Worried about pollution? Become more eco-friendly! Worried about your child’s health? Stop feeding them processed food! Concerned about international wars? STOP BUYING PRODUCTS THAT PROVIDE WEAPONS TO THE ENEMY!

These people are all talk & no walk. If you really care so deeply about an issue, educate yourself & see what you can personally do to prevent it!

3) WHY THE F**K ARE YOU ASKING ME THIS?

“Well, I don’t know, I mean there’s two sides to every story. & You don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes. Both sides are at fault, really. Can we change the subject, now?”

These people infuriate me the most. They have NO OPINION AT ALL. Or just choose not to voice it. Instead they remain neutral & polite. They play devil’s advocate in a half-hearted way that is just sickening. Silence is acceptance! 

Sadly, I feel like most Americans are type 3. They are the ones who just want their dinner parties to run smoothly & not rustle any feathers. They don’t feel the need to question elected officials or media because they just don’t care enough. & In a society with as many freedoms as ours, it becomes a dangerous situation when the general public doesn’t care enough to challenge (or even EDUCATE themselves) about the powers who govern them. That sounds like a recipe for corruption.

news

(Above: Uh oh! Hard news!)

This is what I’m currently dealing with here. I feel like all of this worldly knowledge & perspective I gained from traveling is slowly slipping away. So I am fighting to keep it. & To also, educate others. However, not everyone wants to hear these things.

Because all I keep hearing is a disturbing us vs. them mantra.

“We could have free health care, but they abuse it!”

“We could have more maternity leave but they ruin it!”

“I work so hard to pay for them.”

“Why would they work? The government hands them everything for free!”

“We could have a better quality of life but think of the taxes!”

All I keep hearing is it’s your problem, not my problem, well isn’t it really becoming our problem? And not even in a nationalistic sense, but regarding humanity?

Global warming, poverty, racism, mass shootings, immigration, & even those starving children in Africa who cause us to quickly change the channel is everyone’s problem. How long can you turn a blind eye before your completely forget you have a heart?

I may seem anti-American, radical or crazy for talking like this. I certainly feel like an outcast at times when I voice my opinions. Hell, I may even be on some sort of government watch list just for writing this post.

But until I am able to travel again & gain more perspective, I will continue to be the voice for those who are either to afraid to use theirs or have none at all. I will continue to talk about the things that truly matter while my society is shushing me with celebrity baby news.

And if you don’t like, please stop reading my blog.

Wake up, it is time to get out of our bubble of comfort, time to question things that just don’t sit right, time to tackle the injustice we see going on everyday.

Sorry, USA, but I am calling you out.

-JG

 

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