As promised, some thoughts on the mindset that makes us American. Back in Virginia, a gun-toting, law-abiding citizen claimed California couldn’t be part of any union he wanted to or agreed to belong to. I’ll get back to this in a hot second. First, let’s consider:
In Nashville, Megs and I toured the home of Andrew Jackson, in which his history as a slave owner and director of the Trail of Tears was glossed over. And in one of the Carolinas, we stopped in at the Museum of the Confederacy, where the slavery issue was literally almost exclusively ignored and other reasons for the war between the states were addressed. In Georgia, we visited a plantation where slavery was discussed unapologetically. Oh, and Montana? Yeah, that there was Custer’s Last Stand, in which Custer goes down as a hero despite what he’d intended to do, which was slaughter a lot of Native Americans for what seems to me to be no actual reason (good or bad).* All these places tell the sort of tale that screams to me, “Don’t admit to your Americanness right now! Pretend to be someone else, from somewhere else!” Much in the same way it seems California’s gun control laws screamed to the man in Virginia.
Needless to say, though I’m saying it anyway: I get where he’s coming from.
There are things I don’t absolutely love about the history of this country, and there are decisions made by lawmakers and civilians alike in the present that I’m not stoked about. To be fair, there are choices and thoughts made by guys I date and friends I have. I guess my reaction isn’t to secede from friendships, relationships or a country. Don’t get me wrong: there have been times in my younger years when I have thought about moving to Canada. But running away doesn’t create change (and truth be told, everywhere has issues. It’s a bit like thinking taking a road trip will be what eases a broken heart). So what’s a girl from California and a guy from Virginia to do?
My thought? Continue the conversation.
That’s a weird resolution to come to, but at this moment, that’s what seems to be what makes us American – our ability to talk about the issues, to form opinions, to argue peacefully, and to think critically. Throwing our arms up and walking away…that’s defeat. That’s immature. In datingverse terms, that a total manchild move. However, my relationship with this country is more like that of family than an intimate relationship, at least for me. I didn’t choose America – that was luck of the draw on where I was born. But I choose how I function within America, how I relate and react, and the decisions I make based on location. Do I look at what I consider blemishes on our landscape, squeeze my eyes shut and wish them away? Or do I politely interact with them, try to understand them, and remain civil even when I really don’t want to?
Like any family, we’re never all going to agree. We can resist one another, but we are still connected. Yeah, this is rah-rah-rah speak and probably too touchy-feely, even for the likes of me. I’m sort of predispositioned to compassion though, maybe inspite of myself.
So what makes us American? Well, we’re all here. That’s reason enough for me.
*When I was little, I definitely thought his name was Custard, and that he was who they named the dessert after. I liked the telling of Custer back then about as much as I like it now, and for that reason I have always avoided custard. In other dessert/political related news, I always thought neapolitan ice cream was actually Napoleon ice cream. However, when I was little I didn’t really get who Napoleon was or what he was about, and I kind of thought he was a righteous dude, so I ate neapolitan with jubilee.