Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oh Say Can You See?

Patriotism is one of those manic topics for me. I can’t quite organize my thoughts about it and it’s something that has evolved and changed for me over the years. I remember a time, about 4 years ago, when I posted on I2US that I wasn’t proud of my country anymore. I think my exact words were that it made me feel sick to my stomach. I wasn’t a happy person then, and honestly, I don’t really think I was a happy person for most of my life. I felt like I had gotten the short end of the stick. That feeling has definitely changed over the years and immigration and everything that has come with it has definitely played a major roll in inspiring that change. Just when I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, my stick got ripped out of my hands and chucked in the desert. That’s when I realized that I had nothing to complain about and I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

The 4th of July brings out a lot of emotion for an American who has been displaced from their country in the way I was. It’s very difficult. However, I am happy to say that I have completely moved past those feelings of bitterness toward my country. When I look at our current situation, I no longer feel as though I have been abandoned by the US, or that it has done me wrong in some way. To me, the majority of the problems with immigration law today are a result of too many people abusing the system over the years. It’s not just one white politician’s fault. Many hands have made this bed. It has taken many a fake marriage and fake birth certificate to get to where we are today. Is it still unjust for those of us who didn’t partake in any of that fraud? Yes. Do I want to cry and curl up in the fetal position some days? Hell yes. But at the end of the day, these are the laws, they are what they are, and life isn’t always lollipops and gummy bears. We can take it or leave it.

Now that I am outside of the United States and have had a chance to carve out my little life here in Mexico, I am more proud than ever to be an American. Especially after seeing the Mexican presidential election unfold, I am able to appreciate America in a way that I was never able to appreciate it while I was living there. People can bitch and moan about Obama all day long, and complain about the lack of jobs or the line at the welfare office. At least there is a welfare office to help you when the job market is crumbling and at least we have valid elections where the candidate America votes for is actually the candidate who goes into office. And furthermore, thinking outside the comparisons of the Americas for a second, at least I have the right to vote and the freedom to say all of the things I am saying right now, without fearing for my life. The only backlash I will get from writing this today will be from a few internet trolls who want me to be as bitter as they are about our government.

My perspective has completely changed. At the end of the day, I am more proud to be an American than I have ever, ever been in my entire life. For the first time, I actually know what this day means and it has nothing to do with going to see fireworks or wearing an Old Navy t-shirt once a year. I finally know what it means to be proud to be an American and what we, as a country, have been fighting for since day one. I think that makes today sting a little bit more. It’s unsettling to truly love and appreciate my country but not be able to plant my roots there, but I am glad that I feel this way. I know that when our day does come, we are going to take it for everything that it is worth and appreciate every single second for the rest of our lives.