Tag Archives: migration

Time flies; we fly

Sheesh. It’s been over a month since I’ve written anything. A busy month.

We’ve been to the Marott AGM in the north of England, just of Hadrian’s wall, and we’ve been back to California for a fortnight. Then we had the delights of dealing with an 8-month old with jet lag (a highly recommended experience for all masochists). Now we’re going on the separation anxiety rollercoaster, introducing Alex to the nursery where he’ll be spending 2 days a week.

The trip to the US was the strangest, and the most stressful, of all these things. Living abroad has really changed my perspective on my native country and its role in the world. I am becoming an expatriate not simply by location but by conviction as well.

This is not a result of September 11, although those events highlighted, and are a result of, the things that make me feel so much less at home in the States. America is a nation founded by idealists, on ideals such as individual liberty, justice, and freedom. Sadly, though, the dominant culture seems to think that simply believing in these things is enough; they are not a basis for action. Certainly, they are not principles informing American foreign policy, and have not been for some time. To most of the world, America is the emblem of selfishness, might makes right politics, and economic exploitation.

I have brought these topics up to Americans, and seen others bring them up. The usual response is to deny that America should be answerable to the rest of the world…Son of Star Wars and the abandonment of Kyoto, for instance, are just the US looking out for its own interests. The basis of that argument is that the US is too powerful, and too self-sufficient, to have to take the consequences of its actions, which would be irresponsible even if it were true.

What worries me most is that most Americans don’t really want to know why anyone would think the US was not the best country on the planet. They don’t want to hear that America is feared and hated, or that it is looked upon as arrogant and self-centered. Why would anyone hate us?, they ask, wanting only insanity as the answer. They never ask why the terrorists chose the World Trade Center, not the Statue of Liberty. They still see America as a beacon of hope and liberty to the world.

And America could be a beacon of hope and liberty. But it would require hard work and sacrifice for the principles that the nation was founded on. It would mean valuing the thousands who will starve in Afghanistan because food aid didn’t get in while the bombing went on as highly as the thousands who died in the World Trade Center. It would mean that we couldn’t all have a car, because our grandchildren will want a climate they can live in. It would mean the US Army couldn’t block landmine treaties because they want to use landmines, and that US chemical weapons facilities would be as open to inspection as Iraq’s. It would mean enforcing justice in areas where it has historically taken sides (the Middle East), and acknowledging its own past of supporting terror (the refusal of San Francisco courts to extradite convicted IRA terrorists comes to mind).

Of course, in the land of free speech, saying things like this will get you lynched, conversationally at least. That’s the worst of it…the US is straying from its principles in order to defend them. Fair trials? How will any member of Al Quaeda fare? Any other trial where elected officials had publicly proclaimed a defendant’s guilt and the press had systematically biassed all potential jurors would get a change of venue. Bin Laden won’t even get to hear the evidence against him, since its revelation would compromise classified material and agents.

But if the US would wake up and listen to its allies, act in accordance with its principles, and become the good global neighbor it thinks it already is, what could it not achieve? America could build a world where no one was so robbed of opportunity that he wants to blow himself up for a cause, where terrorists have no network of supporters and are reduced to carrying sandwich boards to spread their views, where peace was the norm. That would be a place worth living with, and in.

I’m not holding my breath. Maybe, in time, the US will sink back into apathy. Until then, I don’t think I’ll move back. It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Daylog on Everything2

Daylog on Everything2:

My great-uncle /msged me last night…part of the exercise of contacting all the family (an exercise I know well from my days of living in an earthquake zone). Possibly in reference to my daylog yesterday, he said:

Concentrate on the baby, don’t think of such things.

I can’t.

Everyone in the situation, the airline passengers, the people in the buildings and on the ground, even the terrorists, was some mother’s baby. So are the civillians the warmongers are advocating bombing. Everyone was once as innocent, and as trusting, as the five month old curently creeping across my living room floor. Somewhere deep inside them all, before they died, that core of gentleness remained.

Loving one baby, I cannot help loving them all. Take care, beloved sons and daughters of your mothers.

And a thought strikes me. How much is all of this going to cost, in monetary terms? Billions?

I wish the US had spent those billions before this happened, bringing economic prosperity and justice to more of the world. Writing off third world debt. Feeding the hungry, helping the poor. Thinking beyond its own borders. Being good global citizens.

Would this terrible loss of life have happened then? Maybe, but maybe not. And even if it did, we’d have a much better moral position, even with people who don’t like the US.

Can we start paying the next large sum now, spending the money to create a world with greater justice and honor? Please?

Death and more death.

Death and more death. Destruction. Despair.

When I woke up this morning, I thought, “My mom and dad have been married for 35 years as of today. Today my son is 5 months old.” I looked forward to lunch with my husband, and to maybe hearing from my great-uncle, newly on my web community, E2.

Now it’s all shattered. Looking down at my sleeping baby boy now, I wonder what sort of a world he will inherit, because of today. It makes me want to slap the hawks who are howling for blood on every channel. Revenge won’t bring back the dead, just deepen the hatred that the assailants already clearly feel. Then they’ll strike back, then we will…I don’t want to live like that. I dont want him to live like that.

I bury my nose in his soft, fragrant skin, and wish for this morning again.

The above was my daylog on Everything2. The only other thing I would say is that we, as Americans, must insist that our officials pursue a course of justice, not revenge. The relatives of the people killed will be howling for everyone who might possibly be involved to be bombed to slag, in chorus with a fair slice of the American political spectrum.

This is a bad idea because:

  • Revenge breeds revenge. The allies and relatives of the people we unjustly avenge ourselves on will be out for our blood. I’ve seen enough of that in the news on the Middle East and Northern Ireland.
  • Most US politicians, and many US voters, identify themselves as Christians. Now is the time to put your beliefs in action, guys. Vote to turn the other cheek. Yes, it’s hard. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a test of our committment, would it?
  • Now is our chance to set an example of civilisation for the world to follow. If the US is to have any credibility but that of the neighborhood bully, we must act responsibly, even in the face of violent provocation.

I don’t hold out much hope that we will pursue such a mature, responsible course.

I got this email from the US Consulate General in Edinburgh:

Dear American:

Following today’s tragedies at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, we encourage all U.S. citizens to maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. In addition, American citizens are also urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions.

We recommend that Americans continue to monitor the media channels for further information and refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the following websites: www.fema.gov and www.usembassy.org.uk respectively or our toll free information line: 0800-0279890. Please understand that very limited information is available at present.

American Consulate General
Edinburgh, Scotland
September 11, 2001

I do not consider myself at much risk.