Representing America

I have been in New Zealand for 10 months now, and my nationality has not been an item of distress or question until quite recently. For that, I realize I am extremely privileged. I didn't run from my country to be here, as I encounter in lots of immigrants. I didn't come here in search of better or freer government or way of life. I came here to serve, not knowing my country would be facing turmoil of the like that it hasn't seen in many, many moons. I love America and being American, but right now, patriotism isn't coming as naturally as it usually does.

                              (photo above taken at Black Lives Matter protest in Auckland City)

I learned from living in Australia and have been reminded since stepping foot in New Zealand that there is a full range of feelings for America amongst the rest of the world, from idyllic admiration to pure spite. There is respect for the fact that we, as a nation, lead the free world, but there is also a huge amount of fear for the same exact reason. We're thought of as rude, head-strong, proud, impulsive, and a whole host of other things I'd rather not say. You know in your classic high school tv shows and movies how there are specific roles? Now, remember the one jock with more muscle and sway than actual sense? That's us in UN High School. At least, that's the impression I get from an average non-American. A lot of assumptions are made when I open my mouth, assumptions I've been happy to work with until approximately a month ago.

Now the first question I get asked is something along the lines of "What's going on in your country?!" accompanied with this look of 'you need to get your house in order.'  The response I want to say is something along the lines of "Which part? The virus we can't seem to tame because no one wants to be held fiscally responsible because money is somehow more important than lives? or the systematic racism that we have been making baby steps on getting out of since the 19th century? Or has something else happened in the news today that I should be aware of?" Instead, I politely, and with a smile of course, say "that's a great question." The part that breaks my heart the most is that questions like that are deserved. 

What is going on, America? Since when did we as the leader of the free world take such a hands off approach to a virus that is wreaking havoc on our fellow Americans? Since when did we decide that we'd rather have capital than elderly to seek advice from? Since when did we decide the police force are above the law? Since when did we decide that our people dying due to race, lack of money, asthmatic disposition, or any reason than the Lord simply calling them home was okay? Our problem is not out there in the void or in the middle east or in central America. Our problem is at home, right underneath our noses. It's high time we get our house in order and love love love. Our country is amazing! It has so much culture and promise and opportunity, but those experiences are being limited to only part of the constituents, so I encourage you to do what you can to heal our country and make it a warm and welcoming home for everyone who is privileged to be an American. Pray for our country and those leading it. Contact your state representatives and district attorneys asking for more accountability amongst police officers(elected officials' office phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses are easily accessible via google). Wear a mask, and don't be afraid to be the annoying person who tells others they should too. VOTE always. Advocate for what you believe in. And above all, be kind. We are an amazing nation full of amazing people, and for better or worse the world is constantly paying attention to our doings. Let's make it for the better. 

Eliza Edge
Resident in Mission for WME


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