those five little words
Hey, hey there. What’s up? How are you?
You know how when you are in a relationship with someone and one of you says those words that make your heart stop and your stomach drop? Then, when you are sitting down to talk, they gently tell you that the relationship is not working and those five little infamous words of “it’s not you it’s me” is spoken as a way to lessen the blow? Well, this is that conversation we are about to have. Although, this time, it IS you and not me. It is a hard truth but it needs to be said.
It is you.
All of the fuckery and craziness is a result of you and your really bad decisions. So we need to talk about that. Look at this more like an intervention rather than a break up. Okay? While I believe that our relationship is truly broken, I am not ready to completely end things just yet. I made a vow to stick with it and see things through. I will admit, however, that you are making it really hard for me to remain faithful to my vows.
You see, even though I do not live in the United States at the moment, I am an American. Born and raised, 100% American. I have the battle scars to prove it, but that’s not what this conversation is about. I know that, for the most part, my being in another country for a portion of this relationship seems strange, or even unpatriotic to you. It’s not. My life is really good and the only thing I can complain about is not being able to shop on Sundays and lack of closet space. But that is a separate issue and not the one we are talking about right now.
As an American citizen, with children who are also American citizens, we are beholden and obligated to our country. Up until recently, I never saw this “gift” as a burden, but now it seems more like a curse. So, you are probably asking why I am telling you this. What does it have to do with our relationship? Well, that is simple. There are an estimated 9 million Americans living overseas (not all military). While the reasons why we chose to live in other countries varies, there is one thing that does not change. We are Americans. We are required to pay taxes, yet we are not represented. We have the ability to vote, yet a large number of us do not. We have the ability to help change the face of America, but we don’t have a reason to do so, especially now.
Give us a reason PLEASE!
We want to have a reason to keep our vows, care about this relationship and stick with it till the end. But you are not giving us reason to believe that things will change. They have to change! We are well underway for the 2020 election circus and it strikes me, yet again, that so much of the conversation centers on what is happening nationally, as it should, but it leaves out the impact, of the bad decisions you make, on the rest of the world. It shouldn’t. I am not just talking about the “standing” that America has (actually, had) in the world as a beacon of how to get it right. I am talking about “bread and butter” issues that we, as overseas Americans, also face. Let me give you some examples.
Right now, the current administration is not only looking to suppress votes within the US, but they are looking to stop overseas voters from being able to exercise their constitutional right to vote. They are doing this with increased taxation and shuddering of services with the USPS. We can’t vote at our embassies, we can barely visit them. Yet, they are trying to take away our ability to cast votes via absentee ballots. So, they seem to have understood that we have voting power, and are now doing everything they can to prevent our voices from being heard, yet NOT A SINGLE CANDIDATE has spoken to that. Remember that estimated 9 million voices we talked about earlier? This matters. We get calls and emails requesting our money to support the candidates, yet not a single person on the phone, not a single line in any of the emails, and not a single debate question or answer talks to us as voters. We aren’t seen as anything but an endless supply of small (or large) donations. So, after a while, being involved in the process doesn’t seem that important. Why would it? For the most part, we have lives that, in comparison to quality to many of those in the US, are tremendously stable and relatively good.
But I don’t want to just throw that out there, let’s look at some receipts shall we?
I have healthcare. It’s awesome. After working in the US for so long and having to pay so much money for basic things, I really like knowing that I won’t go bankrupt if I get sick. I like knowing I am encouraged to seek “preventive” medicine to make sure I am (and stay) healthy. And my insurance (government) not only encourages it, they pay for it. Say what?! My children, should they need it, will have access to whatever care they need. We have scheduled healthy/well checkups for children. We make sure they have their shots and any learning disabilities are caught and monitored. This is not possible with you and I have to admit, it is hard for our relationship as it seems you don’t want to put in the work. Speaking of work!
Both the Hubster and I had 3 years of parental leave (each!) when our children were born. And, if knowing that your job is secure during this time isn’t enough, the added bonus is that we could stretch that time out over the first 8 years of their lives. So we weren’t forced to take it all at once or lose it, we were able to schedule it for what worked for our family. Which is what working families should be able to do, right? But wait, who has talked about that part again? See, the European system is set up that we have government insurance, yet you can still subsidize that with private elements (kinda sounds like Kamala Harris’ plan, but there will be stanning for her later) like extended maternal care. My prescriptions never cost more than 5 Euros, and all prescriptions for my children, until the age of 18, are free – yes FREE.
My mom, during a few visits, has received emergency medical care that, for the same care in the states, she might be on the verge of bankruptcy at the moment. I think her last visit, which put her in the hospital with emergency surgery, and a week-long stay in the hospital being treated by the chief surgeon, around 7,000 Euros. Calculate that in America . . . your head hurts now don’t it?
Did I also forget to mention that dental is also included? Yep, we actually get a bonus if we show that we have been doing preventive maintenance with regular cleanings at the end of the year (I suck at this but the Hubster is a poster child for it - which is why we love and hate him at the same time. But I digress). The cherry on top is that dental care AND braces are covered for children. So there’s that. You don’t offer me these benefits. You are so busy trying to control what I can do with my body, while at the same time not providing any resources to fix the problems that arise. And now, all we do is argue about which plan will bring Jesus to the table while we won’t have to pay money for it (*cough* looking at you Warren *cough*). America, you are way too fucking entitled and that is part of our problem. You don’t get the bigger picture. It feels like you only care about yourself, and that is not good for any relationship to thrive.
Aside from the fact that I don’t have to worry about whether or not my children will get shot up at school, or at the mall, I also don’t have to worry about whether or not I can afford to send them to college. My children have the opportunity to have top notch education opportunities and it will not bankrupt our family. Hell, I am even going back to get my doctorate because I can do that here without sacrificing rent or food or future paychecks. Trust me, after getting 3 degrees in the US, I can have a WHOLE conversation about student loans!! Whew chiillee!!
My point is, while not perfect, this system is so much better than what you offer, so it makes me question our relationship that much more. Yes, we pay higher taxes in Europe but, we get to see a shit ton of tangible benefits for that. We have trains, street cars, undergrounds that run EVERYWHERE. We have infrastructure and TRUE reformative justice systems, not simply punitive. Most people don’t even know how, or need to, drive because the public transportation just works. Are they late a lot of times? YES. The Hubster bitches about that constantly, but the services are there. Plan accordingly and you will be fine. Also, when they strike, they tell you they are doing it so you can make alternate plans. Very nice of them to do this right?! I have to say, there is another issue that makes me question staying in this relationship with you. It seems as though you don’t care about what the future could be, you’re just focused on what is best for right now. But I am confused about which “who” you are concerned about? I mean, most of your family is struggling and trying to find a way out, but you, yes YOU, keep making decisions that make me question how much you care. Your argument for this is that I live in a “socialist” environment and I am doomed, but I’m not. Those are GOP talking points to scare you into staying uninformed. Can you actually “define” socialism? Then, can you define “corporatism”? Because when you say that a society should not take care of its own, you have bought into the corporations’ spin that they don’t want to be held responsible for their actions. This isn’t Russia (talk to the folks in Russia or Eastern Europe) or China (talk to those under the point-system). This isn’t Brunei where the Sultan can declare war on you for alcohol or who you love. But the US is starting to resemble these extremes more and more every day.
You let this happen. I don’t understand it, but you did.
But healthcare, education, and infrastructure are not the main issues I have with this relationship. I want to feel safe, and, in this relationship, I don’t. Yet I don’t. Yeah, it’s nice to go to school and not have to worry about having a bullet-proof backpack. I feel better knowing my children won’t have to go through those drills. Who wouldn’t? My concerns are more . . . concerning?
When you walk into an embassy abroad, who do you think staffs it? It’s the locals. They hire local people in the respective countries to staff the embassy. Yes, there are Americans, but mostly, it is the local people. So, if you are spending every day on television slamming these countries, what do you think could be a reaction to that? These are people who have access to American facilities (for which Americans go in to) and it seems as though you haven’t thought through the consequences of the things you do and say. Also, those same things, what position do you think that puts Americans (who are ad hoc representatives of the US) in?
Now that we have shown the international community that our words and promises mean nothing, what is to stop them from turning a blind eye to the danger we face? What is to stop them from participating in our demise? How could we blame them for doing so? Actions have consequences and I am scared to death I am going to be one of those who will suffer it more due to location.
I already have to some extent. You see, when you are denigrating Black folks, what lead do you think the international community is following? I can tell you, it’s not a good one. To be called a “black piece of shit” or be told to “go back to Africa” (when I am an American) is hard. So hard that I have slapped a bitch, or two or three, for saying those words! And I know you seem to think that racism is special to you, but it’s not. It has spread worldwide. While the color of the laws are not the same, the behavior is and that is troubling.
The point I am trying to make is that the US has always been held in a regard. The way that our (when I say “our” I am referring to the “Black culture”) has been embraced (e.g., appropriated) around the world is mind boggling! The hopes of a future and that anything is possible has always been something other countries looked up to and wanted to have. Either by immigrating or emulating, they strove for it. There was a time when the international community cried for us, our pain was their pain. Our fight was their fight. Our victories were their victories. Because it meant that the dream was still alive. Sadly, that is no longer the case. We have fallen into a spiral that now, they are bored with us. They want us to leave their lands and they have to decided that tough love is the way to go, like when you love an addict but you know they are going to destroy themselves and you have to walk away. That is where we are now.
What is worse is that thhrough all of that, you seem to truly not appreciate the influence, and danger, that you possess. That scares me about our future. The fact that you fail to realize how our racist and self-centered views infect the world, or how Americans being sent out into the international community come with those views, well, it’s disturbing.
And really fucked up.
So now, here we are and the questions is where do we go from here?
How do we proceed with our relationship and work to make it stronger and better than it was before? I do not know.
That is me being truly honest with you. I do not know how to fix what is broken.
I (collective “we”) do not have faith in you.