An open letter to the world:
I have carried this within me for some time now, across six countries and three continents. Today I put this burden down. You do not know me, but I am an American.
Actually, you do not know me because
I am an American- you can not get past that word, the label. I live with you, I am friends with your children, I have visited your house and many of you have eaten in my home. Many, many of your friends and families are neighbors of my family in America.
But you do not know me.
I am not from New York, or California. My zip code is not 09210, I did no got to school in the Big Apple. If you have visited either of those places you do not know me, or even worse, if you have been to Disneyland you have no idea who I am. My parents are neither rich nor poor. My family never owned slaves.
I do not carry a gun- but I reserve the right to. I may or may not have voted Republican in the last two elections, and I may or may not vote Democrat in the next two. That is the soul and beauty of my country. I believe in God, but subscribe to no religion that you can identify with. I expect to succeed.. or fail... on my own. I remember the last Great War, but am not ashamed- for I carry the lessons of that war within me- and we were neither instigators nor conquerors. Can you deal with that? I am not sure- but if you can't than you will
not know me.
If you watch movies from Hollywood, or read novels by Stephen King you do not know me. If you listen to Britney Spears or Bob Dylan you do not know me. If you went to University or College in the U.S. you might know a little about me as an adolescent trapped in an adult body- but that is often worse than knowing nothing at all. If you saw me on the news about the Iraq War- supporting it as a soldier or protesting it in the street, you do not know me.
And you know what? None of that matters. For all of my travel, for all of my time living among you, I don't really know you either. So let's make a deal. In a pub don't ask me about the 2nd Amendment and I'll leave the subject of the 1916 civil war to rest. Let's not address Terry Schiavo 5 minutes after we meet and I'll not mention the Jewish treasures in your museums. Don't tell me who I should have voted for and I'll not mention the millions dead in two World Wars at your country's behest. Do not mention the plight of slaves in the New World over my first plate of rice and I will refrain from bringing up the Killing Fields.
Am I asking you to ignore me, or to not engage me? Never. I am asking you to apply your own standards for rationality. Let's talk as people, not countries. Let us know each other as individuals first. The reality is, we need to talk, you and I. Will we be friends? I hope so, but doubt it. That, however, is not important. What matters is the conversation. When your friends say "don't talk to the Americans" and mine say "you'll never make friends here" both perpetuate the same self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is our chance. Here I am, willing to listen. You have the option of slogans or conversation, preconceptions or reality. All you have to do is talk to me. You know who I am, and I know you can always spot me. I am the American in your neighborhood, in you restaurant or your shop. You can either berate me mindlessly, or open a dialogue. The choice is yours. You think I do not care, and you are wrong.
I'll be waiting, world. Stop by or drop me a line- but do not expect me to toe your line without a reason. I want the same thing you do- peace and happiness for my family first, and then I'll do whatever I can for yours. I have no shame in admitting that- and will not take your burden on for you. May God be with you, and when He is not may you have friends who will be- and in my heart of hearts I hope that America is one of those friends, as I hope you will be a friend to us. The opportunity is yours for the taking- so do not let it pass you by when we meet on your home turf