[expansion from previous entry:]
well, on one hand, i’m beginning to see things how non-americans see them. i already was when i was in England for 6 months, including the month backpacking western Europe, but now i think people feel even more comfortable being honest with me because they see that i have made a commitment to leaving the States (and the commenter in the last entry who called me an ‘expat’, wow, did that hit home, pun intended). so they’re letting me in on what they really think. for better or worse (it’s not all bad, by the way).
on the other, i’m introspectively realizing things about me personally in relation to the States, to being brought up in New York City, to American parents, all the associated attitudes: independence as a birthrite, self as first priority, capitalism as ultimate patriotism, being lonely at the top (but not really minding).
do you see a pattern? independence, alone, personal space, freedom to do whatever you want – it’s an every-man-for-himself society. self-society. a bit of an oxymoron, no?
now, don’t get me wrong, that’s definitely nice and pleasent, and dare i say, a bit descriptive of my independent personality, as many of you can relate. and, again, don’t get me wrong – Israel is not an exception to the many (ok, most) countries that aspire to that level of wealth, etc. however – Israel, and most other countries, are not at the top – not lonely at the top – not giants to that degree in the sense i am describing.
by living in a country that is not at the top, i am, by default, waking up to a life where i am not solely important, i am not alone in my society, i am one of a larger whole, and, most of all, i have real and necessary social responsibilities.
‘but,’ you may gasp, ‘america does much good, charitable, i donated and blood and volunteered, etc!’
but it’s also about the government, about the taxes you pay, the time you have to give to national service, what your government expects from you, what you expect from your government. substitute the word government with society. i suppose it works for religion too. anything you are a part of. it’s just important to realize you’re never alone, no matter how much you seperate/isolate yourself.
i do very, very much believe that America needs to get its act together and suck up to not being quite as independent, as self-obsessed if it wants to survive its empire. ironic, but to step up it’s going to need to step down a bit, yeah? (but why look at this is as ‘ups’ and ‘downs’; it’s more like moving over to make room, in order to still be somewhere to move).
i care about the US very much. i care to see it remain great – for Israeli reasons, for personal reasons, for political reasons. but i think that it’s heading in a direction that will lead to something similar to overeating: feeling great at first, wanting more, eating more, feeling kind of uncomfortable, feeling sick, and then, you know, dying. i’m afraid we’ve headed into the eating more/feeling kind of uncomfortable stage recently… i’m sure it’s not too late for us, but at the same time it doesn’t seem like americans and other top-notch westerners are ready to change their attitudes.
this isn’t all of it, but that’s what i feel like putting down now. the more personal-level stuff will be for another time.
[also, listen, i’ve been called a hippie since i was seven and put greenpeace stickers all over my room and spoke about being a vetenarian and joining the peace corp. i just don’t see myself as a hippie… or, i dunno, not a socialist either. i’m just very much into conflict management. negotiating situations. everything in moderation. capice?]