There was a time in my life where I thought that things would have to get unimaginably bad before I would be willing to abandon ship and emigrate somewhere. I thought, you know, by the time things got so fucked here that my only option might be to bail out somewhere in the third world, where corruption or negligence would give me at least a shallow approximation of the Freedom, with a capital "F", that America is supposed to stand for.
But lately, I've realized something: I'm not going anywhere.
I was born here. I was grown on the fruits of this land. I was raised, part by part, in every place you have. I love your dirt, and your water, and your stone, and your trees, and your animals, and, though it may not seem that way sometimes, your people. I know we're in a bad spot right now, maybe some of the worst in these 235 years, but there are two things that keep me optimistic: Things have been much worse, and they've always gotten better.
People have pride in things for a lot of reasons, and I'm the first to say that not all of them are good. But dammit, I'm proud of you America. It might take a little time for people to pull their heads out of their asses, sure. It happens. They seem to get so wrapped up in ridiculous stuff that they lose sight of the important things for a while - but once they get their priorities right, well, there's not a thing on this rock that stands between America and her goals. I know that's probably pretty scary for a lot of the rest of the world. Believe me, I get it. It's scary to me, too, sometimes, because when we don't have a goal, all that energy and ability tends to cancel itself out trying to stretch in every direction at once.
We're bickering over lightbulb legislation and pictures of politicians' penises. We're shuffling debt around and holding healthcare for poor single mothers hostage, when we could be using one percent of our yearly budget for two years to vaccinate the entire world.
But I read about things that happened before I breathed my first, and it astounds me: For a while there, we armed and fed most of the free world by saving tin cans and growing vegetable gardens. And for an encore, we went to the moon using slide rules and hand tools. That's where I want to see us get back to, and I think we will.
Yeah, this Tea Party stuff is a drag. In fact, American politics right now are really getting in the way of a lot of great things, but I think that can be changed. It has before! Oh, it certainly has before. Phew.
Class warfare? Try robber barons in the gilded age. Foreign policy? Ha-ha-ha, let's try isolationism on for size again, I think we'll find we've rather outgrown it. Or maybe we ought to go provoke another war with Mexico to secure another few hundred thousand square miles. Or a treaty with the Somali pirates, now that the Barbary coast is secure!
Intractable, in some cases unjustified foreign wars? Look at all that crap that happened right on the heels of the Civil War! The Spanish-American War, the subjugation of the Philippines! And then World War I! And that was just the wars, let alone the absurd economic situation domestically. When the Dow loses a couple hundred points in a day, then corrects itself in a few more, we forget what it was like when there wasn't even an FDIC.
So, on one hand, it seems like we've let ourselves forget the past and repeat those mistakes, despite the best intentions of our sixth grade history teachers. But on the flipside, that means we've managed to handle all of this before and come out just fine.
It wasn't too long after the really bad wars that we decided black folks and women ought to be allowed to vote, too - something a whole lot of our progressive friends and allies over in Europe didn't do for, in some cases, decades longer! I'm not trying to dog on them, just reminding myself that underneath all of this immigration histrionics is a nation capable of incredible forward thinking and egalitarianism.
So no, America, I won't be ditching you. Ever. Things are bad, sure. Things might get worse, sure. But taking the coward's route and pissing off to Argentina is not something that's even on the table anymore, and frankly, I'd like to apologize for even suggesting it.
Hang in there,