|You might remember this shirt from the 9/11 Patriotic Party|
So, I was made in America, and I have been lucky enough to hold on to my citizenship. I also hold a US passport, which I have a nice cover for. The cover not only protects it from getting beat up in my travels, but it also hides the front that says United States of America on it. I don't like having the United States of America readily visible because I think it could allow for people to hassle me. There have only been a couple of times I have gotten any grief for being American (we won't even mention the death threat in Glasgow... that was a whole new level of grief), but I don't like the idea that people can see where I am from and make quick judgments about me. I also don't like when they ask me to sing Yankee Doodle and when I refuse, they go ahead and sing for me.
The judgments that get made and the questions that get asked are almost always concerning American foreign policy. What is frustrating is when people ask why the US enacts certain policies. I cannot answer all of those questions. I have no clue why we invaded Iraq; I straight up have no clue. I understand wanting to have an open conversation about policy, but I don't like the assumption that I agree with all of the policies of the US. Spend 5 minutes with me and you will discover I can be critical of US policy.
This is not to say I don't love being an American. I understand the privlige that comes with being an American and holding a US passport. First of all, I am allowed to live comfortably in one of the richest nations in the world. I can participate in open discourse and vote in elections. I don't fear for my life and I don't wonder where my next meal is coming from. I live under a stable government that provides me with adequate education and roads to drive on. I am free to travel anywhere in the country, and I do not have to worry about clean water. I do not have to worry about polio, malaria, or typhoid. I understand this list goes on forever, and I realize how lucky I am to live in the US.
Beyond just living in the US, holding a US passport also opens doors. I can go pretty much anywhere I want in the world without much hassle (at the border, not necessarily from the citizens). I might have to pay a reciprocity fee. (I paid one when I got here. I understand they charge US citizens because we charge them, but I don't think either country should have the fee, especially considering there is a free trade agreement.) I might need to apply for a visa or some other minor inconvenience, but I am not restricted from going pretty much anywhere I want (with the exception of North Korea and Cuba, and even Cuba is easy to get to.) I really am thankful for that.
I always have been. However, I don't think it really hit me until I was telling Clea why I like to keep a cover on my passport. The converstation moved to how US citizens are able to go wherever they want without much trouble. She looked at my passport and said, "You're really lucky."
I understand and am greatful for the benefits of being an American. I also understand that sometimes I act like a spoiled American- like when I get annoyed that I have to turn on the califone to take a hot shower or when I look at the open flame on the propane heater and think how dangerous it is. But I don't think my "American-ness" extends to the point that it should stop people from liking me just because I am American. Please don't look at my passport and pass judgment- at least get to know me a little before you decide to hate me. Or preferably, just don't hate me.
Peace and love from a grateful American.