The Great American Fantasy

TRAVELING ABROAD, especially in Europe, always serves to remind my how incredibly stupid and ridiculous American politicians tend to be.

With every election season, we hear the all-too-familiar boast about this being the universe’s greatest and best nation. As proof, they offer the spurious assertion that almost everyone living in another country wants to move to the Unites States.

What utter nonsense.

I don’t have very many friends living abroad, but I can assure you that none of my foreign friends has any desire whatsoever to live here. They are perfectly content where they are and would find laughable any suggestion to the contrary.

Yes, there are no doubt millions of people around the world who would sacrifice much to enter this country, but I’m willing to bet that, given the option, many of those people would welcome a new home in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany or any of the other developed countries.

Many have found those new homes there, as you can see wherever you go in Europe where you see African, Asian, Latin American, Middle Easter faces wherever you go. And I’m not talking about tourists.

The reality of human nature is that we would rather stay put.  For the most part, we prefer to stay with the familiar — faces, landscapes, weather, customs, cultures, foods, etc. We would rather live among those who understand, appreciate and love us.

What drives us away from home – from the familiar — is rejection, hopelessness, despair or danger. In other words, when the comfortable becomes uncomfortable, that’s when we decide it’s time to move on.

With few exceptions, we move to places that are as similar as possible to the place we’re leaving behind, and as close as possible. If that place is the United States, that’s where we will go. If it’s Spain, then we’ll go to Spain.

My father’s father moved his family to Texas because he’d had a serious falling out with his boss — a big hacienda owner — and feared for his life. My mother’s father loaded his family onto a horse-drawn buggy and transported them across the Rio Grande because his family did not approve of his new wife, whom he married after my mother’s mother died.

Neither of them, I can assure you, told themselves or announced to the world that they were coming to this country because of baseball, Chevrolets or apple pie.

Or democracy, which by itself is not that huge of a drawing force.

I’m sure that there are many Cubans who will swear that they or their parents or grandparents moved to the United States because of this nation’s democratic traditions and institutions. But these are the same people who were perfectly content to remain on that island under dictator after dictator.

Freedom and democracy are not necessarily the main motivations for moving to another country. Just ask the hundreds of thousands Filipinos and other Southeast Asians who are working under oppressive conditions in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries.

And let’s not forget that many of the people who come to this country, legally or illegally, come here because they can no longer put up with the economic, social or political conditions in their home countries — conditions that the United States, directly or indirectly, helped bring about.

We exploit a country’s resources and/or we prop up ruthless and corrupt leaders there because who allow us to have our ways, and then we wonder why that country’s people want to leave.

Or we pat ourselves on the back because those people want to come here.

SO YES, THIS idea that the entire world is in utter fascination with and covetous of the Great American Way of Life is nothing more a Great American Fantasy, foolish and dangerous. But it continues to be pushed by politicians because it appeals to people’s natural need to feel that we are better than others.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this country. While I love to visit other countries, this is where I choose to live. It’s a great country, and it doesn’t need any foolish myths to make it great.

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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