I am critical of America — for good reasons. It’s always had its share of problems, but they’re magnified now. Maybe it’s the internet. As a people — we are much more informed, but not much smarter for it.
As tough as I am on America and Americans, you’ll find me to be one of my country’s biggest proponents. I love the U.S.A. I was born there, grew up there, signed up for Selective Service, worked, had kids, paid taxes, went to jury duty, owned guns, shopped at Wal-mart, checked out movies on the weekend at Blockbuster, picked up a Pizza! Pizza! at Little Caesars, and watched the fireworks on July 4th.
I was an average American.
Part of that was raging about the unfairness of living in the States. We complained about taxes, unemployment, racism, the high cost of education, healthcare, and much more, but we only knew what we saw on the network news every night at 5 pm. A lot of powerful people got away with some terrible things because they could hide it easily.
But there is no hiding now. Americans find out about almost everything that is going on in a never-ending scroll of multimedia and fake news. Trump is hated so much because all his mistakes are out there for everyone to see. What do you think would have happened to Bush had we knew all the details of the things he did? Just the little we knew showed us what an idiot he was, but what if he had Twitter during his administration?
We know our boogymen and women — McConnell, Sessions, Pelosi, Kavanaugh, Clinton, Graham, Pence — the list goes on. We find out a lot of their dirty laundry. But, even though we know the terrible things they do, nothing seems to happen. We have all the information we need, but the people responsible for how terrible things are in America, the people running America — corporations, lobbyists, politicians, and the rich — make sure we stay so confused that we never do anything about the injustice.
We find out about the terrible things people do, but there is always something new, so we forget the old stuff. As an example: remember when Trump was running for office, and in a rally, he made fun of a physically disabled reporter? Think of the outrage if Obama had done the same thing. What about Bill Clinton?
But, because it turned out to be a great strategy for him, he did something else equally horrible, and everybody forgot. He grabbed a pussy, then he was racist, then he said something stupid on Twitter — it was a neverending cycle of outrage, and no one could keep up.
Think of all the terrible things that Trump or McConnell have done. Can you truthfully say you think Bill Clinton, Obama, Reagan, or Carter would be around if they had done a fraction of what these two have done?
But, I digress.
I was an average American who complained about unfairness, but I loved my country. I felt like America was the best place in the world — it just had a few problems.
But, as time went on, the internet proliferated the news, and we became slaves to information. I started to see that maybe the place I called home wasn’t the best in the world.
My education became complete when I finally moved to another country and stopped absorbing the news in an echo chamber. I saw what life was like in other countries. I saw what different cultures though of Americans.
I saw the truth about the place I lived for most of my life.
When I wrote that essay, I was fed up and embarrassed being an American. I got tired of people walking up to me and asking, “What is your President thinking?” I was ashamed to be American, and if someone had offered me citizenship in another country, I would have taken it.
I was part of the problem.
But the more I research and write, the more I want to start offering solutions. Instead of hiding on Facebook behind memes and feel-good stories, I am trying to tackle the tough issues. Even though I don’t live in the States right now, I see what’s happening and the proud American in me wants to do something to help.
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Instead of avoiding arguments, I’m challenging people’s ideas. I still have a long way to go. I am still scared to get involved in angry debates, but at least I’m trying.
Instead of giving up on America, I want to do something to help. I know America is far from a lost cause. America needs the voice of people who care, and I want to be one of those voices.
Lately, I’ve been thinking and talking to my wife about moving our little family back to Arizona. I have my reasons. My mom and dad are alone without family right now in their mid-seventies. They are in good health, but I would like to be around to lend a helping hand. I want to take care of them like they took care of me. After my brother died, I realized I’m the sole child, and as much as mom and dad say they are fine, and tell me they have the people from the church to help them — I want to be the one on which they can rely.
I also want to reconnect with my three boys. Things have become strained, and the only thing that can change our relationship is closeness and bonding.
I do love it here in the Philippines. This place has healed me in ways I never thought possible. I found a family who loves me for who I am, not just what I can give. I embraced minimalism and the simple life. I found out life is not what you can get, but what you can give.
I don’t want to change back to the way I was.
But, I want to go back to my home and show the people I love the different man I’ve become. I want to show them that even someone with horrible mental issues like me can recover and make something out of his life.
I want to show my wife and children a different way of life.
And, I want to go back to use my energy to give a voice to the voiceless. I want to continue being a mental health advocate and add “activist” to my resume.
I want to do something to change the place I love. My home. America.
I want to help.