Americans are funny. I went out with Mensa and a bunch of friends yesterday to watch the World Cup in a mammoth of a sports’ bar, America was playing the Republic of Ghana. It was interesting to me how the men were all rooting for the USA. All America boys of all colors, religion and race, but the All-American girls kept saying to me they hope Ghana wins. I thought, that’s so strange. Mensa for one, growing up a few years in Ecuador, would never had said I hope Switzerland wins this last Sunday, what made her wish a country she knows nothing about, never visited, nor befriended anyone from would win over a country she is a citizen of and has lived in longer than anywhere else, including Ecuador? What is it that makes so many “liberal” ladies (and feminist men) so anti-American? It reminded me of this Mark Twain quote from his book, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: “My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.”
Our government and corporations in America are in a horrible state of affairs for the time being; it is very true that something needs to be done about that, but that has nothing to do with soccer. Our soccer players are not billionaire baseball, football or basketball stars making a fafillion dollars off of corporate money (Only 4 US Major League Soccer players make over a million dollars. The league’s average base salary is $186,258, while the league minimum is $36,500. The minimum salary of a Major League Baseball player is $500,000 while the average salary in 2013 was $3.3 million.). They are Americans, representing us, the people, not the institutions or politicians of this country, so let it go and like every other countryperson let’s root for our team. Trust me, they need all the help they can get. ;]
I struggled with the idea of belonging, like many people do. I belonged to one country when I was born, when I grew up, and then I moved, and didn’t belong anymore. I moved here, and that’s where I finished growing up, but I didn’t fully belong, I just got used to it. And here is where I find myself, not truly belonging anywhere, yet struggling to find where I fit. And I’ve done this, and had this conversation with many people, discovered different ways of aligning myself with people who struggled with the same issue, finding niches but then getting knocked out of them because, there again, I found something that wasn’t quite right. The loyalty I have to the country I was born in, I find that it might be only there because my family is still there, maybe. I don’t think that I would be as loyal, as connected if everyone lived here. I am loyal to my childhood, because that’s what I experienced there, and my childhood was pure, and simple. I am loyal to those memories. I always hated growing up, dreaded the idea of growing up, and I did that here, in this country, in a very different place. A place with many virtues, but also many flaws. But I grew up, and I learned and struggled to cope with those flaws, focusing more on them rather than seeing the virtues and privileges I was given by this land. Now that feeling still lingers. After being here longer than anywhere else, I still haven’t let myself fully belong. Because it’s political, it’s social, it’s controversial, it’s trendy, it is what progressive thinkers do. But it is not progress. Hate, criticism, protests, it is not progress. Hate speech, controversial conversations, protest songs, and open discourses, all done in closed minded environments, are not progress, they are words. Words have been powerful over the centuries, but it is also what has enslaved us, as we have taken words to be truth rather than, just thoughts, which derive from experiences, which are just a direct reflection of our actions.
I don’t know if any of this is making sense now, but I struggled rooting for the team yesterday. I knew I fucked up saying I was rooting for the other team, it was not right, it was not my land, not my country. And I tried to get excited and stay in the game, with my now land’s team, but something felt off. Something didn’t fit. All that hate speech, those controversial conversations, those protests songs, and discussions, have tainted the soul of this land, and my own soul, as if someone other than human beings live here. It’s so tainted, its so ingrained in my brain, that I could not root for my own team, a team made up of MANY different people, all who once and maybe still didn’t feel like they belonged. I felt uncomfortable celebrating this success. But the truth of the matter is that yes, the tainted words from the criticism of the institutions have mangled the spirit of loyalty and solidarity of all people, all human people in this land. The truth is that not only are these institutions, the ones we normally think of, media, religion, or institutions of racial-gender-and socio-economic inequalities, so prominent. Something else has brewed up. Something much uglier and complicated, that has lead us to believe that we are having conversations about progress, when we are only alienating each other more and more to the point where no one truly belongs, anywhere. I should not feel like this. It is not fair.
Yet I am guilty. I struggle to be loyal to the rest of the souls of this world.
I will have to fix this.