Hello America. Meet the Rest of the World.
Note; This is not a political post but one of identification.
The closer we get to the election in the United States, the more comments, eye rolling, and jokes I am hearing as an American living overseas.
My journey as an American in missions has spanned over 25 years. When I began, everyone loved and warmly welcomed Americans. I can remember being in the Philippines and everyone shouted, “Hey Joe” at me, referring to G.I. Joe. It was with warmth and not derision.
The looks of disbelief started with the war in the Balkans and increased with the invasion of Iraq.
Upon moving to South Africa under Bush II, I often wished I could change my accent. Things improved remarkably over the last eight years under Obama. His African roots may have had something to do with this.
I will never forget Barack Obama’s first inauguration, which aired live on local television in South Africa. I stood next to multiple nationalities of people who were stunned to witness the peaceful transition of power. Many of their nations changes leaders with bullets and violence, not handshakes and civil exchanges.
As this election approaches, I feel like the 8 years of goodwill is up and I can once again expect ridicule as the circus of the coming election unfolds.
Africans are constantly commenting in my Facebook feed about what they are witnessing. Here is one recent comment:
_”Just love watching the American politics at the moment. Making South African politics look good. Is Donald Trump the Julius (Malema) of America?_” (Just so you know, most South Africans would consider Julius to be a disruptor and not a positive influence. But it shows the world is watching!)
One constant thought has been running through my mind. This helps me identify with the pain of other nations. I do realize my understanding is still very limited.
The pinprick of pain I feel from the current madness is nothing compared to the agony many nations have been under for years.
While dysfunction is now the rule in America, I’ve never been faced with a dictator or tyrant leading my nation. While there are many inspiring leaders in Africa, her people have also witnessed genocides or imposed famines.
Voting in America is still a choice which is not forced through threat or intimidation.
The pain of a nation does not disappear quickly. I still see German youth cringe when Hitler or Nazism is mentioned. Even after multiple generations, the decisions a nation makes can have a lasting effect.
I have very good friends from Zimbabwe. For years, whenever a bad leader was mentioned, theirs was on the list. The shame of this is hard, even though it is no fault of their own.
It is the strength I see in these people which well help me to endure the jokes and mocking which is sure to follow the current circus in the United States.
In a small, very small, way I feel I am identifying more with my international friends from nations with really bad leaders.
Note: Since this is a post about identification and not politics, I ask that you refrain from leaving political comments and only discuss the issue of identification. Thank you. This post originally appeared on A Life Overseas.
Photo by Frances Gunn