America: Love It or Leave It

Love it or leave it.

This statement, dripping with snark and historical baggage that I’m sure goes back way further than Nam, doesn’t have to carry the aggression and vitriol that is usually associated with it when some MAGA hatter shouts it at the Che shirt wearing Bernie Bro. It might be something that all of us could consider a bit more practically before any more unnecessary political violence occurs in our fractioned nation. We live in the freest, most geographically accessible place and time in the history of humanity. We could all gain something from a slightly increased attitude of adventurism in our lives, so instead of getting defensive or violent, how about you get moving.

If you don’t love it where you’re currently living, you have three choices: vote, stay and fight, or take off.

Obviously, you start with the path of least resistance. You try and change the local policies and laws, “be the change you want to see in the world,” but if you’ve exhausted the system—you’ve voted, you’ve petitioned you’re local and state representatives, you’ve protested peacefully and you are still so disgusted with your fellow citizens on a moral level that you can’t “tolerate” sharing the same geographical breathing space as them, then you should strongly consider packing up and moving. This really shouldn’t be controversial at all. You’re bound to find like-minded people somewhere on this great big planet we live on. It seems to be a bit of a fool’s errand to try and force people to change, not to mention, fascist. And to assume that those people are simply ignorant and in need of some re-education has historically had some not so inconsequential and long-lasting effects.

If you can’t find, after searching the world wide web over, a group of people that you can fit in with, you might want to start looking for a mirror instead. I’m sure that there are plenty of Texans or Missourians who would love it in Portland or San Francisco and vice versa. What is stopping you? Don’t waste one more moment of your life, burning so many calories glued to whatever town you grew up in. I’m sure it is really racist and intolerant there, or oppressively radical and overburdened, but that doesn’t mean you should project that frustration out on the rest of us. There are a lot of good places out there filled with great people. By all means, get out and find your utopia or your commune and live “your truth.”

Don’t we do this with relationships, families, neighborhoods, jobs, and cities all the time? Why not move to a more suitable country? No one would recommend that you spend your life trying to save a dysfunctional relationship. Any psychologist worth their salt would tell you that the only thing you can change is yourself. By the way, if you have tried to change your locality and failed, maybe ease up on the revolutionary chatter. Changing the world is hard. What makes you think you have any business telling other people in the world what they should be doing or what they need to change about themselves? The arrogance of some people is astonishing.

You have to be willing to accept the tradeoffs to the decisions you make and the priorities you have. The founding fathers did not want what Britain was offering. That was the whole point. It’s not like the U.K., Canada, or Japan is anything like Maoist China or anything, but it’s not what they wanted, it’s not what they set up. And what they set up isn’t for everyone. It takes a moral, industrious people who believe in individualism to pull this off. The only thing promised is the adventure.

If you’re super into public health care, punctual public transportation, and a clean, safe society, Japan may be the place for you. You won’t be able to own a home or even rent an apartment as a foreigner though, so don’t expect to be treated with any kind of equality, in public or in private. They’re coming along on women’s rights and LBGTQ tolerance, but don’t expect anyone to go out of their way to respect your preferred pronouns.

If that is your thing, the U.K., Canada, and France sound like they’d be pretty great—if you can call mandatory tolerance, tolerance. All these places are great on public health care. They pay for it in taxes and it doesn’t suck if you’re relatively healthy. You may not want to be there if anything major happens like your appendix bursts. You’ll probably die on the street near a subway exit just shy of the clinic.

“But this is my country, I’m not going anywhere!” you insist. Ok, well, that leads us to our final option. Revolution.

You’re tired and frustrated, you’ve tried working the system and it’s just not working, so you take to the streets, but you feel like your voice still isn’t being heard. Well, you have some options, but they do get substantially riskier. At this point, you need to ask yourself if this is really worth sacrificing your life for and more importantly, is there any way that you are just wrong here? Is it possible that the justice you are burning so many calories fighting for is just making you a pawn in some sleazy political game? If the answer is still a resounding, No, then you can always Google how to make a Molotov cocktail and fight. As we are seeing every night in every major city in the country, violent rioters and looters are outshining the peaceful protests and things are bound to get more violent if this is not somehow dealt with.

This is indeed what our great nation was founded on, the early revolutionaries knew full well that they were putting their lives on the line. When Patrick Henry said, “Give me Liberty or give me death,” he meant it. Revolutions are extremely dangerous and I’m not sure these extremist groups on either side have a full understanding of what real bloody violence they are flirting with actually looks like. Violence begets more violence. A 17-year-old male shot three people, killing two in the streets of Wisconsin on August 25 after three days of protests. If after reading that last sentence you immediately followed up with a justification of your prior beliefs, please know that the incident and the ones to come are a perfectly predictable result of the lack of order in American cities. This is a preview of what real life chaos looks like. If you’re not prepared to see your fellow comrades lying bloody on a dark street somewhere, fighting for their life, please reconsider the path you are promoting.

Like I said, America is not for everyone, and that’s cool. But we’ve got our own thing going on over here and by any objective measure, it’s working out pretty well. So, love it… or please, feel free to piss right away off.

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Mike Black

Mike Black is an educator and fiction writer out of Phoenix, AZ. He is the author of such novels as Walk on Home and Samurai Blues. In the decade he spent in Japan, he wrote commentary for NagMag and since returning to the states, has written countless articles on the cultural and political playground. You can follow him on Twitter @mikeblackBB.

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