What I Understand Now (or: Why I’m Giving Up on Facebook)

There are so many things I understand now that I didn’t fully understand when I lived in the US. 

I now know how it feels to be an immigrant. I know what it’s like now to live in a country where I don’t understand the language and the work that it takes to learn what you need to get along. I know the frustration of going to the doctor and not being able to be fully understood because of the language barrier. Or to be able to understand official documents. Or understand your neighbors. 

I know what it feels like when people dismiss you because you’re a foreigner. Especially from a country that is no longer well liked. Even when you try to be polite and apologize for your mistakes. 

I understand refugees better, since I feel like I can no longer go back to my home country for fear of being legislated out of existence or killed. I understand now why when someone says “go back to your home country” it can be heart rending. 

I understand now just how self-centered American culture is. Especially white American culture, but it’s true of Americans in general. Looking at it from the outside, there is such individual entitlement. There’s no real idea of community, and from here, even many of those who talk a good line about “creating community” seem full of shit. 

American culture also has this idea that what Americans do is what everyone else in the world should do. American Christianity is the “Right Christianity.” American activism is the “proper way to be an activist.” American ideals are the only ones that people should strive to emulate. America’s problems are exactly the same as other countries’ problems, and they should all be solved in the same way. 

There’s the assumption, too, that people outside the US understand what’s going on in the US. There’s the assumption that everyone online is going to know US history, and it’s history of racism and discrimination. I can’t count the number of times someone from another country has asked, “Why did Trump get elected? How could people vote for him?”

It’s come to a point now where I’ve given up explaining. Like I’ve said before, I mostly shrug and say, “There’s a reason my wife and I live in Switzerland now.”

And I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve had to give up trying to explain things about living outside to Americans, especially online. I’ve had to block Facebook and Twitter on all my devices. And it’s not just because the news is horrible, but because I feel like I can’t contribute anymore. No one wants to hear what I’ve learned. No one wants to know my opinions from here.

I know I’m privileged. My wife and I were able to move. We didn’t like it, so we left. It doesn’t mean we don’t think of the folks back in our home countries. It doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to what’s going on. It doesn’t mean we don’t care anymore. It does mean we see the insanity in the US in a different light. 

The country is imploding. Eating itself from the inside out. Trump’s policies are pulling down the government. The progressive/leftist side are eating their own and being helped by foreign interference. The right is just plain batshit Nazi fed by Fox propaganda and the same foreign interference. Being centrist is somehow a bad thing, even though most Americans are. Each side has it’s purity test: either purity of ideals or purity of theocracy. It grieves me that many of those who talk about wanting to see the American community come together are the same who are ripping down those who have the opportunity to begin the change. 

Watching it from here, makes me wonder if there will ever be a country to go back to. It grieves me to think that it’s not impossible that I could be a refugee in truth.

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