Expat

I understand when Americans now say they want to move to New Zealand. I just got back from a month there, and I can’t think of a more beautiful, pristine, unspoiled by human greed place in the world. The people are warm, interesting, and have a sense of humor. There is enough eco-consciousness that native species of plants and wildlife are receiving protection and cautiously returning. In many ways, it seems like Paradise.

There are a couple of ‘buts’ in this picture I just painted. New Zealand’s environmental policy isn’t as enlightened as one would be led to believe. But the country is so sparsely populated that humans haven’t been able to make the huge dent in the ecological balance that the US, Europe, or China have. This, however, also means that the damage done on the scale of the country isn’t irreparable. The damage all of us have done on a world-scale is increasingly irreparable, unfortunately, and this will eventually reach this paradise in the antipodes.

Yes, I understand when Americans say they want to move to a more sane part of the world. That’s exactly what I did in 1970 as a 21-year-old. The situation in the US was nasty then and  even more nasty now. In the first week or two of the new administration, we’ve been bombarded with so many lies and atrocities that everything inside me screams ‘Fascism! Totalitarianism!” These are very dangerous times, and the damage that can be done to the entire world is far worse than in the 1930’s.

The first instinct is to leave, to escape the atrocities and lies, not to have anything to do with this. “This is not my President. This is not my country.”

But if I were to do it again, with the wisdom I have earned now, I would stay and fight. I’m proud of the millions of women who marched the day after the inauguration. I’m proud of Homeland Security and the attorney-general who stood up to the President, even though it got her fired. I’m proud of all the rising grass-roots movements dedicated to the truth and the values that once made America great: equality, justice and freedom for all, no matter their race or religion.

My new homeland, Europe, is not thriving. The same shadow threatens to fall on us. And it requires a special dedication to the truth, even the uncomfortable truth of how we all – Europeans and Americans – have brought this upon us, to keep us strong enough to resist.

But resist we must. I often feel the temptation to flee to New Zealand. But this time, I think I will stay and fight.

5 Comments:

  1. Thank you, Maddi! I think what is happening now needs strong people – everywhere!

  2. Mary-Lou Gillette

    Welcome back, Maddi! It is very sad time here in the U.S. There is so much political posturing and incompetence in the workings of our government that it is impossible to understand how any of this turmoil will be resolved.
    I joined the Women’s March in Oakland and am planning on joining two more that are coming up in April. It helped me immensely to be able to stand up shoulder to shoulder with 100,000 strangers who believe in supporting the freedoms and rights of all peoples all over this poor world. Sadly, it appears that our president lacks any empathy for those who are suffering and seeking refuge from war. I am ashamed of his words and actions. They are frightening the world.

  3. As always an insightful commentary, Maddi. I think of you often in your chosen country and wonder if you feel safer. Now I see it is only a matter of time before such atrocities reach our neighbors. American must make a stand, if only to show it can be done. There is a great deal of hate and distrust here, which makes me angry and sad. This man has driven a wedge between friends, spouses, family members. Yet, I am amazed at the numbers of people, here and around the globe, who are demanding to be heard. I think that is only the beginning. Who knew that generation from the ’60s and ’70s would be called upon again? We will stand.

  4. Maddi,
    Excellent piece & thank you for your continued eloquence in matters of importance. We’ve had discussions about what is occurring here multiple times, & you know my positions. I’ve said I was always the quiet,background person in many ways with my political views. My friends of course would know my opinions, but I wasn’t making my voice heard outside of my circle. Now, I feel I can’t remain quiet anymore as the hostile & aggressive policies that are being pushed through undermine the values, constitutional rights, & ethics of this great country. Voices are being squelched; rights ignored. Fear is the ultimate goal. I cannot be silent anymore.

    I have been feeling horrified & distressed, & really adrift. I know if I were to remain silent, I do believe these feelings would deepen, & overwhelm my spirit. I remember saying after the election….I don’t know my country anymore. But now through the daily onslaught of egregious & appalling news, the voices of protest are also getting louder, & I’ll join in. I’m proud as well at the growing opposition..voices never heard before, people in influential positions speaking out, grassroots & larger organizations mobilizing. As the ever observant & edgy Bill Maher keeps saying…”we’re still here”!

  5. As usual wise words dealing with a difficult situation. I have been horrified by what is happening to my country and it’s morals, customs, laws. Like you, I see totalitarianism. I see lies believed and truth distrusted. I see minorities belittled & made scapegoats, especially Muslims. I see science ignored. I people’s civil rights & voting rights being damaged. I see a divided people becoming more divided. I am proud of the marchers. I am proud of the people calling, emailing & going to see their members of Congress but I worry that 2 years or 4 years is too long to keep up the fight & I also worry that the system really is rigged with gerrymandering. I would like to flee but I think it’s more important that I stay & fight. I want my country back.

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