Sorry Patriots, but I have a love/hate relationship with America. I love apple pie and July 4th and sporting events (mostly for the food though). I love that we are loud mouths and that we pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and make our own damn dreams a reality. I love our current president. I am grateful for those in the service. I love our T.V. shows. (My latest guilty pleasure is The Bachelor!)
But there is a lot that I simply loathe about our country and my husband and I will one day realize our dream of becoming ex-patriots to a country that better matches our value system. Yes I am a yuppie-hippie who lives in Oregon, recycles, yogas, eats organic, etc. You can also guess that I am a democrat (Obama has the highest approval rating of any president to date!). It seems that emigration is the next logical step for me to fully realize the ultimate hippie yuppie dream.
I first traveled abroad when I was 19. I went to England and Whales and Scotland and came back ready to pack my bags for a more permanent foreign exchange. I hated America for it’s lack of history, lack of chivalry among it’s men, and general narrow-mindedness. I also loved the clubs and music in Europe (I was 19 after all). A few months later I found myself in rural Japan, teaching at a women’s college for a month. I spoke no Japanese and everything I knew about the culture came from the Karate Kid films! Needless to say, I came home with a new appreciation for American freedom–especially as a loudmouthed broad! So, I gained the perspective that the grass is not always greener…
Now again as a parent I find myself feeling that we have it all wrong in our country when it comes to our values. Mostly these issues have come up as I was working full-time and trying to be a decent parent. This week is my second week working only 80% time after a long battle with my job and myself to put my needs and my family’s needs ahead of my ambition and my career and my company. When this schedule was granted to me, I felt like the luckiest person in the world to get this one extra day with my daughter, and to do all my domestic duties like laundry and grocery shopping and various appointments. So glamorous!
I am still grateful for this schedule but I am also resentful that I need to be grateful for it. We work too much! We work so much that money and success is now more important than our own families! We are too tired to come home and cook a healthy meal or actively play with our kids. We can’t afford to take the proper length vacations because we have a mortgage to pay for our too-giant houses. For women, we have to do all of this plus stay skinny and sexual.
And what do have to show for this? The worst educational system, a crumbling economy, fat and diseased kids, ridiculous divorce rates and children and elderly who are not properly cared for. We need to get our priorities straight again, and if we do, I am convinced we will be a happier nation.
Realigning our priorities is not going to be easy. Our greatest strength is that we are individuals–it’s exactly what made America, but it is exactly what is tearing us down. We only think of ourselves–who cares if there isn’t a planet in 100 years? We’ll be dead by then! If your marriage gets too hard, get a new one! We have become a culture where everything is disposable and replaceable.
As you know if you are already a parent, and especially a mother, you suddenly find yourself in a place where you are concerned about things you weren’t before. All of a sudden every child became mine in some way–to the point where certain news stories literally keep me up at night (Like the book “Under the Banner of Heaven”–did you know Ron Lafferty is still alive?). I care that the world might blow up in the next 70 years because Sofia will have her own family by then.
So I am country shopping.
Wanted: Country that is not difficult to emigrate to. Must have socialized medicine and long, subsidized maternity and paternity leaves. Must have excellent restaurants and outdoor markets, with frequent communal eating. Must value family life including respect of elders, few homeless, short work hours so time can be spent with children, subsidized day care a plus. Must be inexpensive to live in and/or have high-paying jobs. Must have excellent museums and art, and high-quality education with subsidized college tuition. Cobblestone streets and pretty churches a plus. Non-smoking. Coffee and wine drinking preferred.
Am I really asking too much?