Someone asked me if I had a desire to leave my country in order to experience a different life, a different culture. My answer was “Heck no. Why would I want to leave my home?” His response was odd. He wondered if I would want to leave my country to live in a foreign land so that it may open my eyes to the flaws of my nation. This, of course, made absolutely no sense to me. I’m fully aware of the flaws of my country. Moving to a different one will possibly expose the same exact flaws only in a different language. So I asked again, “Why? What’s the point?” He seemed frustrated at that moment. I felt the frustration bubble up in him and in the air between us.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Most people know the flaws of their country. How do they know the flaws? Because we know the flaws were created by us, our parents, grand-parents and everyone else before and in between. We all know our personal flaws. Most of us will likely avoid admitting our flaws at one point or another. Most others of us will even have an over-exaggerated view of some of our flaws. But the fact remains – we all know our flaws and we do nothing about it. Same goes for the flaws of our country(ies).
When I was 11 years old, my friend and I was a mother chasing her child with an aluminum baseball bat. When we turned to our parents for help, they quickly advised that we mind our own business. Well, we couldn’t just let our friend’s mother beat her with a bat, so we ran home and called 911. The 911 operator did not believe us and asked for a parent to come to the phone. When we couldn’t produce a parent, the operator warned us against pranking the police and that was that. That moment exposed a huge flaw in the system. So did that motivate me to become a 911 operator? Perhaps a social worker? Am I running for public office to stop the many injustices that exist? Am I making documentaries, exposing this all to the public? Or, maybe once my friend and I realized the adults were not willing to take us seriously, we ran and created a scene to save our friend from being beaten with a baseball bat, forcing our parents to forget about their drinks and help an innocent child? Well, the answer is a big fat “No!” None of those things happened. And that flaw continues to exist in our country (and around the world) over 20 years later.
I am aware of many flaws in this country. I don’t need to leave to be enlightened. Knowing what is wrong is not what fixes the problem. Knowing simply means that you are aware. So, the next time someone says that the only way to be awakened from the dream of believing that my country is perfect to realize the many flaws it has, I plan on asking that person – Why? Who are you going to save? Now, don’t get me wrong, traveling and experiencing different cultures is amazing. I do believe it helps everyone to become more open and understanding of different traditions, more accepting of different cultures, normalizing our uniqueness that much more. But our leaders have traveled. They have been exposed to different cultures and types of people. Yet somehow, injustice still remains. The flaws continue to accumulate.
So, I ask again, now to both you and to me, “Who are you going to save?”