Watching America literally on fire from afar creates this uneasy internal feeling within me, which is a mixture of nausea, fear, and dread. I am an American living overseas for the past 7 years, and as I see updates from cities across the U.S., these questions spontaneously arise:
- Is this really where I am from?
- Is this what our founding fathers fought for?
- Is this the place my family members struggled to be part of, leaving behind everything they knew?
- As a multiracial individual, would I be welcome back as a resident in the country?
- For a country founded on freedom, who actually is free?
Each time I return to America, the disparity is more and more evident. Last year, almost each of the five cities I visited were bursting with increasing numbers in homelessness. The racial divide is prominent. Amidst the coronavirus millions have lost their jobs and health insurance. I know I am not alone in wondering what I can do.
Looking at your home country become an internal war zone is devastating. We are our own worst enemies. Our national militaries are not being called upon to fight “the bad guys” overseas, but protesters and looters in our own states. A different type of civil war is emerging, and it isn’t a matter of fighting between the North and the South, but more about the haves and have nots. What will it take to realize that injustice for one race is injustice for all of us? Although looting, rioting, and setting buildings on fire throughout America is not the answer, will anyone hear the call for help that’s been pleading for years?
What can we offer during this time to our fellow Americans? Prayers, peaceful protests, donations, registering to vote, learning and unlearning about our privilege, creating conversations in our communities, families, and with our children. How can we step up as a country versus step out? Can we transform our anger and disgust as a trigger to collectively transform? There may not be one specific answer at this moment, but perhaps we can live our lives through the questions together. We can continually ask ourselves, how can we as our country move forward and not leave anyone behind? It is possible to win as a society versus win as an individual. This is a call to put the collective good in front of our individual goals. When we begin to realize there is greater power of interdependent achievement versus independent wealth we will become a progressive society once more from sea to shining sea.
Observing and empathizing the outcries and strife of our fellow citizens, most of us are filled with frustration, sadness, anger, and a stirring within to revolt. It’s easy to complain, blame, or passively watch this happen before us. Escaping and becoming a resident of another country is a fleeting possibility that has emerged in many of our thoughts. Part of me recognizes it’s easy to leave (or for me stay an expat), watch from afar, and think that the country’s turmoil is no longer my problem. Why return to an America that’s burning to the ground? Yet the United States doesn’t need her countrymen to flee the fire, she needs us to stand tall and together in the midst of it all. My hope from this blazing fire a new united phoenix will emerge.
This moment has been brewing and bubbling up for years. It’s time for an inclusive revolution. I challenge us to follow the words of JFK in his inaugural speech: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”