When I arrived in the United States, back late 2000, I had no real plan to stay here. I flew in on a visitor’s visa wondering if the relationship that had started, and blossomed, online could stand the test of being brought into reality. From the first moment together in the concourse of the airport, we knew it would. Life then became a whirlwind of life events and immigration paperwork for us and, since those early days, it has been a tough road.
I found myself welcomed in this part of “flyover country”, not just by my wife’s family, but by everybody. Contrary to what seems to be the popular belief, my experiences have taught me that everyone loves an immigrant. They love to guess where I’m from; they often comment on how they love my accent; stories of “the old country” are always listened to intently. I think it’s an inherent part of being American, as the vast majority of people here are descendents of, if they aren’t themselves, recent immigrants.
Despite the portrayal of every bad incident or misspoken word being the result of some kind of brutish prejudice, I really think Americans are a beautiful people. I’ve not been outside of Ohio much, other than a few trips to Indiana and a couple down to Kentucky, so maybe there is a naivety in my viewpoint, but I stand by it.
Notwithstanding the events of 9/11, I was confused by just how easy those in Congress allowed the erosion of America’s principals through things like the PATRIOT Act and the TSA. Back then, I was even more green about the Constitution, liberty and freedom than I am now.
I didn’t escape here from Cuba, or flee from some genocidal African regime, or leave my oppressive Asian homeland, but I flew here, for love, from the United Kingdom, and I had in my head what “the land of the free” was. It was a country where everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. It was a land where, with hard work, and maybe even an idea of your own, you could make something of yourself. People came here from all over the world, escaping from repressive regimes or voluntarily from other countries, because it was a beacon of freedom, tolerance and liberty.
Being in my early forties, I grew up during the Reagan Presidency and the Thatcher Prime Ministership and I remember hearing Pres. Reagan refer to America as the allegorical “shining city on the hill”. I remember that close, strong bond that my countries had and even in the green and pleasant land of my birth, the idea of America shone out.
Its become apparent to me that the 21st Century has seen the erosion of that idealistic image of America.
The problem seems to be that, for a long time now the ideas of freedom, liberty, self-reliance and personal responsibility have been slowly tarnished. The role of the family and the neighborhood community is being replaced by a reliance on government. The concept of America’s exceptionalism and the notion of pride in this country have been gradually made to be seen as uncouth and degrading ideas, through political correctness and cultural and moral shifts instigated and perpetuated by the more “progressive” elements of our society.
In fact, this degradation of what was the solid basis of American society for so long, saddens me.
The Constitution is more and more being seen as a rough guideline for how to “kind of” run America, rather than being acknowledged as the Law of the Land and the platform from which the United States’ ascension was launched. Most of this destruction appears to have come from “the left”, but “the right” can share in that blame, as pandering politicians come from both sides of the aisle.
Cradle to grave coddling and a need for the easy way has weakened this country, but Uncle Sam is not dead yet. He may be sick enough to be in a metaphoric hospital bed, but returning to those concepts I mentioned earlier, once so integral to the American Way, is the only medicine he needs. The road we’re on right now is “Easy Street”, paved with Cloward-Piven books and the pandering politicians are selling out the country just to make it even easier.
Yes, the ideas of freedom and liberty are hard to live by and we all want it easy, but we all need to “man up” and take responsibility for our lives, and I am definitely in that category.
Now… where do I start and who’s with me?