I am a resident alien. This is a title as well as a status. As the label suggests, I don’t belong but I am here. I am not some glamorously exotic immigrant with a tale of liberation to tell and I can’t, with even a modicum of legitimacy, extrapolate some hard-luck story to justify my existence in the NPR catchment area. Fate, finances and family have bought me here – for the duration of my visa. Yet I am passionate about this country. Here’s why……..I believe that there is no such thing as ‘standard American’ or a particular ‘American perspective’. I believe that applying a broad-brush to this continent is both naïve and unfair. I believe that the one dimensional perspective of America often portrayed by the international media is as iniquitous as it is irrational. I have lived and traveled to many different places and yet I have never resided in a more diverse, interesting and anomalous society The true magnificence of this place is that it actually hangs together despite the wonderful cultural chasms that underpin the whole disparate entity which is the ‘United States’. I believe that the United States is a model for other countries, not because it is perfect, but because it functions so well with all of its imperfections. And so I find myself defending my temporary home with a degree of application that sometimes surprises me. It certainly surprises some of my friends at home in New Zealand. I don’t believe that the rhetoric of exporting ‘freedom and democracy’ has much credibility because it’s too easy to poke holes in when one takes even a cursory look at the way things work ere. But I do believe that America can serve as a model. Not because it is ideal, but because it functions so well with al of its great and glorious flaws. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.