Many expats from the US living around the globe are mortified at the new leadership of our home country. I am one of those people who is beyond words over the new person in the White House. Let me be straight- I don’t have a strong political identity. When election time rolled around I wasn’t crazy about any of them- but I was more fearful of one. The one that won. If you disagree with me already- I’ll advise you to click away now and let that be that.
What I want people to understand- is that we, as American expats living in your country, do not share the ideology of the new President. We do not believe it is only ‘America First’. We know from experience that there is a world out there filled with billions of people and places and life is about more than ourselves. We care about our environment and are humbled at the welcoming nature of those that have taken us in, become our friends, and shared our lives.
We do not echo the words of the inauguration speech from Friday.
Many like myself actually felt sick and revolted at his tone and the words that bellowed from his chest. From what I can gather, there are two different ways of digesting his speech. I heard nothing about working together- learning from one another, or sharing responsibility for this planet. I heard nothing of respect for other cultures or ways of life, or longing to learn from one another- something that we as expats embrace. I managed to hear half of his speech until I had to turn it off. I couldn’t listen to any more.
As I told a friend in her FB post- a share of the rather eloquent and accurate Dan Rather take on the inauguration– I went to bed on Friday night fully prepared to hear a window shatter in the middle of the night. We live along a busy street- and late at night we get the post-bar traffic via bike. We always hear groups going home talking a little too loud, a bit tipsy and more raucous than I’d like to hear in the wee hours of the morning.
People don’t make the best decisions when they’ve been drinking- so I imagined a scenario where people went home after drinking a few, possibly having a riled up discussion over what had transpired during the day- and *maybe* someone knowing our house on the way home. Maybe they’d see us as condoning what the new President said. Maybe they’d see us how some people in the US see immigrants today. Maybe they’d want to vent their anger on a window. It’s not an impossible thought.
Except that never happened. A, no, we’re not famous in our village and it’s doubtful that anyone knows that this is a house of Americans. B, I don’t see the Dutch behaving in such a way. They’re even keeled. And I’d like to think that everyone knows WE DO NOT AGREE. At least the parents at school know this- as per what happened the day after the election and I was consoled by everyone I interacted with that dark day.
But do you think it’s like that everywhere? For all the expats all over? I doubt it. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s a tenuous time for Americans living abroad. We don’t strut around proud of being Americans. In fact, I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in trying not to give myself away when I intact with people I don’t know. I don’t want people to know I am an American.
I have never said that before in my life and meant it like I do now.
There are so many things I could continue to go on and on about- my regret and remorse. My shame and my embarrassment. My inability to want to have anything to do with that man until his regime is no more. He speaks for some Americans, yes and I am saddened to say it. But we do not feel that way. We’re sorry he’s there. We’re looking forward with hope that he won’t be there for long. We love your country- feel home here and respect your culture and way of life. We are grateful for the opportunity to live here and appreciate the help that you offer us. Thank you for being our friend.
*It should be noted that I realize I do not speak for all expats, just as I do not speak for all Americans.