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Tuesday, July 27, 2004 

Somewhat Enlightening

So Gwen Ifill interviews this delegate from Massachusetts (I didn't catch his name) at the Democratic Convention in between speeches last night, and he says, "I want to be as proud of America as I am of Americans."  I couldn't have said it better myself.  

I have very conflicted feelings about my country right now, and conflicted feelings about why I seem so desperate to leave it.  My whole life I've been told that America is the greatest country in the world, and while I don't really doubt that, I am feeling two things: 1) that I need to go out into the world to see that for myself and 2) great as it is, it has a whole lot of flaws. 

My friend Josh got his masters from Bristol and he said after spending nine months in England he was hoping that when he came back America would seem all shiny and new and he would be reminded of why he loved it so much.  That didn't happen.  He said maybe he needed to spend more time away. 

I will never forget the feeling of my stomach sinking when I was in a bar in Rome in January 2002, my first time out of the country since 9/11, and a guy said to me, "Well, America kind of got what they deserved, didn't they?"  He wasn't a Muslim extremist or anything like that, he was a Roman.  A westerner!  I learned that a lot of people don't like America, and it's not necessarily the people you think. 

I need to travel the world and judge for myself if America is the best place for me.  It might not be a given, like so many Americans assume.  A lot of Americans take what's given to them.  A lot will never challenge it.  I don't want to be like that.  I want to love my country because I love my country, and not because somebody told me to love it.

I've never met so many young Americans who are only now discovering what the rest of the world thinks of their country. What have they been feeding you?

"I want to love my country because I love my country, and not because somebody told me to love it."

Too true.

From a completely different angle, if you grow up as a "minority" in this country, you live a sort of love/hate relationship with America. The land of the free and the home of the brave labels you a color/race first, American second. So even if you live with pride as an American, you're never quite a full American. Unless you travel overseas (we tend to stick out whatever race we are).


Jose can you see, by the dawn's early light....Austrailia is pretty nice. Goodaye Mate


Hey Mr. Greengrass,
1. To be fair, they're aren't many dissenting opinions in the country.
2. We're isolated by geography, so most Americans never leave the country.
3. What countries we are close to usually have citizens that are dying come over (Mexico, Cuba etc.)
4. And it just used to seem that everyone liked us! Like eveyone in the free world speaking English and foreign exchange students showing up at our high schools who want Levi's and Britney Spears.....

We are clueless. Most of us had no idea. If it doesn't get reported on MTV, most kids miss out.

I'm getting the hell out of dodge, and if I come back, it will be my choice, not because I was born here and didn't know better, but because that is where I want to be!

Hey Monica. It is definately unsettling working through all our national myths. If it helps, national pride doesn't just happen in America though. I sometimes wish the British would be a bit more objective.

I grew up in Sweden and went to study in London for both my BA(Hons and MA. The first school I went to was an American Uni in London, the second a British. A lot of my friends were/are American.

Post Sep 11 the Americans I met during my MA were feeling confused. Not only did they come to a new country, but they were suddenly bombarded with scepticism, anger and criticism. This was in many cases new to them. They had been pretty much used to the notion of America being the greatest country in the world. Of course they knew other countries weren't too fond of what America did politically at times, but it wasn't until they came to Europe that they realised the extent of it all.

My friends still love their country. They still missed the things that was "home" to them. At the same time they began to read more international papers and watch news from different countries. They got new perspectives that they hadn't been exposed to before. They found it interesting and they began to question what they themselves believed in.

When leaving London they felt they had learnt a lot. The questioning had been good for them and they felt they looked at their own country, themselves and the world in a new light. It's amazing how much you learn to both love and question things you've grown up with when leaving your country of birth. But it's a good thing.

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