I grew up in a country where the enemy was totalitarianism. As children we were taught that freedom and democracy were good and communism and the lack of rights were bad. The fall of the Berlin Wall represented the victory of the Western Democracies over the totalitarian bent in the East. We were the good guys and the good guys won. Hope was in the air.
I was in graduate school in British Columbia during 9/11. It was like the world stood still for a few hours. I watched in disbelief with our Australian neighbors as the second tower was hit. At our graduate school, we prayed for everyone involved, but then we debated what America should do. People at my school from all over the world wondered what America, bastion of freedom and bringer of hope, would do.
When I next visited home, I was shocked by the blanket of jingoism that had blinded my country. Rights were voted away by our Congress, urged by our President. They called it a patriot act. IT was like black became white and white became black. I found myself a patriot of a country that no longer existed. I felt homeless.
Today I feel I have a home again. Today we swore in the first African American President of the United States. Today we swear in the man we elected based on hope rather than fear. I feel like that blanket of fear has been lifted. Today I believe, once again, in our future.
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