me and America

I’m not sure how to write this post. I’m not really sure of what I want to say. Since the middle of April I have been living in America. I haven’t been here since May of 2014 and that was only for a month of visiting family and celebrating a sister’s wedding. In 2013 we spent the summer in the San Juan Islands of Washington but I was on a remote island with no wifi, no television, and very little interaction with the outside world. So I would say that the last time I really lived in America was the 5 months we spent in Washington when Ayden was born in 2010.

While living in Mexico we follow American news and, to some extent, American politics, but we prefer to get our daily news from the BBC and Al Jazeera. We celebrate Thanksgiving but not Independence Day. We speak English but we don’t keep up with the Kardashians; I’m not even sure who they are and I don’t care enough to google them in order to find out. We only know about new music when someone posts a video on Facebook, the only social media outlet we know how to use. I suppose we live like the expatriates that we are.

I grew up as an expatriate. When I was 6 years old my family moved to central Mexico to plant a church in a small town. We were the only foreigners who lived there for the first few years of our stay and everyone knew us. When my mom walked through the market to buy our groceries with 5 little blonde children in tow women of all ages would reach out and touch our hair as we walked by. We moved back to the U.S. when I was 13 but only for three years. At 16 I was back in Mexico only to turn around at 17 and head back to mid-America where I immediately started traveling outside the U.S to Latin America, Asia, and Europe. I barely had enough time to get my teenage feet planted on American soil before I left again, let alone form a mature opinion on American culture.

I was homeschooled and, living outside the U.S., we studied American history and economics from a distance as though examining a foreign country. I grew up believing in the American dream and that hard work, perseverance, and integrity is the way to build a successful life. (A philosophy that carried my Grandfather to success and one that has been severely challenged in my own life.)  I believed that America was a beacon of hope to those looking for freedom from oppression and that she accepted migrants willingly since the country was built by migrants. I grew up knowing that America was that golden country where the truths were self evident and accepted by its inhabitants: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain, unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I grew up believing that in America slavery had been abolished and that men and women of all ethnicities had equal rights and that racism was dead. When I was a teenager I finally learned the national anthem; “Oh say, does that star spangled banner still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?” still brings tears to my eyes every time. But I tear up because I have come to realize that America is not the country I grew up believing in. It seems that the only people who believe this is the home of the brave are the ones willing to carry and use guns to prove it. And that is not freedom for those on either side of the gun.

The violence of the past week has broken my heart. Perhaps it is that being in the U.S. now I am hearing more about these senseless and unjust shootings than I would have or maybe there has been more bloodshed over the past few months and it is all adding up. I am beginning to think my heart hurts because I am supposed to fall on my knees over this country that I love and pray for the healing of so many wounds. I want to march in the streets and yell and scream at the unjustness and senselessness of all this killing. I want to close my ears and eyes to the death and move on with my own life. I cannot do either but I can pray for America and believe that Jesus’ kingdom of peace and justice is not that far away and that others are, like me, praying and believing.

Please read the words of another person struggling alongside: D.L. Mayfield’s excellent post In the cocktail party of my life.