Please don’t launch a premature air strike on an Afghani hospital in your irrational anger.
*Note to reader: This was first published by Matador Network, but as this is my own blog, I have published here the draft that I liked best, without their edits.
I think we need to take a break. So take me off your Christmas card mailing list. I’m sick of seeing your pasty extended family lined up with their rifles on the porch in their Sunday best.
I’m not saying this is the end, so please don’t launch a premature air strike on an Afghani hospital in your irrational anger. Despite your faults, I still truly love you. You get caught up sometimes in fear, anger and ignorance, but I haven’t forgotten your virtues. You’re the strongest advocate for Freedom of Speech, you legalised gay marriage and you elected our first black president. However, your accomplishments are beginning to fade as I spend more and more time away from you. I’m starting to see you how a lot of other people around the world see you, and it’s not looking good.
We’ve been doing the long distance thing for nearly a year now. I’ve been enjoying a new kind of first world life in Melbourne, Australia, and from what I see online and on the news, you are having a sort of identity crisis and dealing with some raging demons. We’ve never spent this much time apart, but the distance has made me into a different person. I’m sorry to break this to you, but I’ve fallen in love with another country. Australia is like you, but better in so many ways. It’s an advanced democracy too, but it actually provides its citizens with basic civil liberties and rights, like Medicare, comprehensive welfare allowances and affordable education with interest-free government loans. Most people live comfortably off of what they earn here—without getting a second or third job to make ends meet—and still have the freedom of will and the excess dollars to spend on trips around the world. Your citizens, on the other hand, almost never travel unless they’re taking their meagre two-week holiday of the year to sit poolside at a lavish resort in a country that’s slowly developing from squalor to poverty.
Being with Australia has opened up my eyes to the fact that there are plenty of countries in the world that can give me freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Right now it’s Australia, but if things don’t work out, who knows? Denmark? Sweden? Canada? All I know is that I have finally gotten the perspective to be able to tell you what I didn’t know I wanted to tell you until now.
Fuck you. I’ve defended you to my friends abroad for far too long. You have no idea how you relate to other people in the world, and no wonder, with half your population being so stubbornly backwards that you find it impossible to join the global society. Ever think that maybe you shouldn’t let Bible Belt douche bags vote on local school board elections to keep Creationism in the lesson plan?
Fuck you for not being the country that I thought you were. You looked so good and welcoming on paper. I was taught that America was the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” I thought that we had settled the fact that Black Lives Matter when you rightly abolished slavery. You were the first country to break free from British imperial rule, the first country to put separation of church and state into your Constitution, the first country to invent flight and land on the moon and build skyscrapers. You gave the world jazz and Jimi Hendrix and Shark Week and Apple products and Mark Twain. You’ve shown me some of the most amazing natural wonders in the world, provided me with year after year of whimsical Halloween celebrations and fat turkeys on Thanksgiving, and given me endless hours of Hollywood entertainment. But I can no longer look the other way while you slaughter Yemeni mothers with drones or encourage your citizens to keep up with the shallow existences of the Kardashians.
I’m not saying that I was naive to the fact that we had our faults, but I just never felt them. I mean, I was a part of them, and a part of you, as much as you were a part of me. I used to meet a cacophony of sneers and jeers from Europeans and Australians in hostels abroad with a knowing smile, because I knew that everyone just hated the United States of America because we were the best. I mean, back to back World War champs, am I right? Except now I see it. Now I see that everyone hates us because we’re kind of the worst.
When I look at your Facebook profile, I not only see that the NRA still has you by the balls and you haven’t put any logical gun laws in place, but also that you’re continuing with this spectacle that is our presidential election process. Meanwhile, my new beau’s profile got the attention of the masses for their election for about a month, during which time they debated about who would provide Australia with the fastest internet and better universal healthcare. (Also, it only took one massacre for Australia to revoke their citizens’ gun rights, and they’re just fine without them.)
This election has gone on for far too long. Don’t you know that it’s just a reality show for the rest of the world? Every Aussie that meets me for the first time and hears my unmistakably stupid American accent feels the need to ask me if I’m voting for Trump…because clearly you’re considering this madman! You’re making me choose between Godzilla and the She-Wolf of Wall Street as the leader of our nation. I feel like I don’t even know you anymore. In fact, I’m embarrassed by you. In so many strangers’ eyes, I am guilty and stupid until proven innocent and intelligent. Australia won’t even let me extend my working holiday visa for a second year, probably because they can’t stand that they let me in in the first place.
At least they let me in fairly easily, unlike you who only gives out J-1 visas to students. That doesn’t seem very fair. I mean, it’s no secret that you’re rather lacking in foreign policy (cough cough occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq cough cough). But foreign policy should extend beyond war and trade and merge with cultural exchange. I know you’re stubbornly persisting this (the popularity of Trump’s anti-globalization “foreign policy” being a prime example), but we are living in a global community, a community that America should be the leader of but is hardly even a part of unless we’re at the butt of a joke. To re-earn the reputation of “USA Number 1”, we need to produce global citizens, to encourage our people to live and work abroad and come back to us with what they’ve learned.
I wish you’d offer meaningful reciprocal working holiday visas, at least to our allies– the countries, like Australia, that fought in all our wars. The Coalition of the Willing, and you’re not even willing to invite their citizens to live and work with you. If our soldiers can fight together, why can’t our citizens work together to create a greater bond among friends through cultural exchange programs? Is your relationship with your allies purely dependent on the existence of threat and tactical geographic advantage, or can it be based on a system of shared values of liberty and democracy and equality? I don’t think you realise that most other developed countries send their citizens abroad with backpacks on their backs, not M16s in their hands. I feel far too singular as an American on the backpacking trail.
You need to promote real travel, to encourage your citizens to get a PhD in Life rather than stressing out every junior in high school with SAT scores and acceptance letters to prestigious universities. Because any American who’s gotten a useless higher education in a subject they chose as an idiotic child knows that the exhilaration of acceptance and four years of intellectual pursuits and frat parties will amount to fuck all once the grace period ends. The rest is all existential dread, the occasional Groupon voucher for an all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica, and paying off student loans until we’re 50. ‘Sup with that 6.8 percent interest on my federal student loans, by the way? Unbelievable.
You’re cheap, you’re sexist and you’re weirdly religious, even though you promised from the start that you’d leave the church stuff away from the state stuff. Honestly, the list is just getting too long. Aside from our country code, the USA is only number 1 in three categories, best described by Aaron Sorkin’s character Will McAvoy in the Newsroom: “We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.”
Look, I’ve tried and tried again to believe in you, to carry the pride that made us work in the first place. But now, you’ve gotten too comfortable. You’re stuck in your ways, while I want to grow and change and make friends with other nations. I’d like it if you did the same. Until you get your shit together, I really don’t want to come home. I’m truly terrified for what outcomes November will bring. I hope you smarten up and get on board with the rest of the world.
With love and hate,
Your former flame…of liberty
PS- The imperial system of measurement is stupid.