Thursday, March 10, 2005

Home, Where The Heart Should Be

The good doctor is headed home, back to the US, for a bit of R&R after too long a time in the far abroad. Towards the beginning of his post he writes:
Not a day goes by when I don't think about home, my family and friends of course, and the comfort of the places and things I grew up with and spent my formative years surrounded by. But it's more than that. I imagine anyone who moves from Florida to Nevada feels a tug towards their home. For me, and I think for many who serve the U.S. abroad in any capacity, America the idea is still a very real thing, and we miss it. We (Americans) don't talk about it very much, it seems like something politicians talk about, vaguely unseemly and inapropriate. Sure, Texans will talk a hole in your head about Texas, and Southerners might praise the region, and some folks love to talk ceaselessly about their state. But America? It strikes me that we are a little uncomfortable with discussing the idea.

I recall my own trip home for Christmas a few months ago. I love Japan, but my eyes were wet when I saw the American continent approaching 35,000 feet below. There is a certain tension in living abroad, one you quickly forget is there until, at the sight or smell or taste of home, you are suddenly lighter, and you realize just a little bit more of what the word "home" means.

The first time I came to Japan, about eight years ago, I spent a little time studying in Kyoto. There were a number of German college students there as well. One summer afternoon we had a picnic at a famous pond, and, for some reason, the conversation turned to patriotism. I've always thought patriotism was loving your home country, and it doesn't have anything to do with that silly "my country can beat your country up" or "my country has a more refined culture *sniff*" nonsense. I had always assumed, up to that point, that most people around the world were patriots. So it shocked me when the Germans said it was impossible for them to be proud of their country. After it sunk in, I felt deeply sad for them. I still do, when I think about it.

Though not by any means the worst, this is one more crime Hitler and his swine committed. For the fantasy of a "master race," they buried the pride of generations of the German people. Nations and peoples need their dreams, their ideals, and they need a certain pride. Not a superiority complex; that's ugly in anyone. But so is a complete lack of pride.

Everyone needs a good love of their homeland and their people, and pride in what and who they are. Though I have always loved my homeland, I buried that simple pride deep inside for a while and hid it. Since I came to my senses and let it come out and shine, every day I have a little more pity for the people who lied to me about my nation and my people and caused me to think the dream was lost. I hope they come to their senses, too.

Dr. Demarche calls for Americans, all Americans, to rediscover our dreams.

It is time.

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