This I Believe

Tony - Beijing, China
Entered on November 7, 2007

I’m not 100% sure what I believe in anymore.

Just after turning thirty I left the United States to seek my future abroad. At the time, even though my life to date had been somewhat unconventional, I was relatively sure I would return home soon, eventually get married, have a family, settle down, and make a decent living. I never thought I would be gone so long, but here I am six years later, living in China.

Growing up I was exposed to a continual debate about politics, with most of my friends and family primarily pointing out America’s bad points. I wasn’t one to disagree too often – in fact, it seemed almost un-American to not find some fault with your country. The Shah was bad, the Contras were bad, Reagan was bad, the corporations were bad, the HMOs were bad, the war was bad, Bush was bad, the next Bush was bad, the war was bad again … the list went on and on.

When I first moved abroad – to Korea – I found myself involved in all of these same discussions, but feeling defensive and, shockingly, patriotic. Now I’m in China and I still love debating and discussing politics with anyone I meet, but when something negative about my country comes up, it usually stings a little.

Two days ago I watched Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko. I’m still able to take a hard, objective look at America, and that movie laid a lot of the problems with our health care system on the line. But one thing I’ve come to believe in is something I probably wouldn’t have written an essay about six years ago: America. With all our faults, and there are plenty of Michael Moores at home and abroad more than willing to point them out and elaborate on them in detail, the longer I live abroad the more I believe in America and the happier I am that, hopefully, she’ll always be there waiting to take me back home.