I’m a US Expat and Was Told to Shut Up! Well … I Didn’t!
Did you march on Saturday too? How incredible was that? Best party ever, woo!
I was amongst 100 lovely women and men in Düsseldorf, Germany. This, and a few other marches, were organized by the Democrats Abroad. You see, I’m a US expat and have been living in Germany for 21 years. We were a small group, but that was awesome because it gave us the opportunity to say why we were there.
Those 4 hours brought so much energy, compassion, love and goodness to my heart and soul, I still have chills! I will never forget that experience, nor the people I met. I’m still Fired Up and Ready to Go! And that’s a good thing because that was just the beginning. I’m afraid, we have a LOT more work to do!
I was told on Friday via Facebook, shortly after the inauguration, that I do not live there, therefore, he IS not my president. That was one woman’s comment to the profile pic I design that read #notmypresident.
She’s a Trump supporter and this is about the 10th time she’s told me I should shut up and instead be ashamed of myself for my opposing democratic/far left views and dislike for Trump.
I unfriended her yesterday. I’ve had enough of her. Sad thing is, she’s a retired teacher. We fought on FB during the height of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and I was shocked to read her words. I actually didn’t think she — or others — thought this way. Appalling!
I have to thank her though because she encouraged me even more to march. To speak up and to continue to fight for people’s rights.
I must admit though, she’s right about one thing, they are not my rights anymore, because I don’t live there.
I don’t HAVE to fight for affordable healthcare or gun control because I already have it.
I don’t have to fight for a leader who respects other people because I live in a country that would never repeat that part of history again.
What I’ve noticed lately though is that it’s a common perception amongst conservative Americans. They have told me that because I don’t live there or because other people are not citizens (reference to Roger Waters incredible performance of ‘Pigs’ in Mexico City on Friday), they have no say and should just keep their mouths shut.
I call BS every single time because I know about the ripple effect and how some ripples turn into tsunamis. I know what damage a wall can do too. And I know what a country that cares for its people can offer. I now live in one and I can compare.
So Why Does this Upset ME Personally So Much?
I am still a citizen. I still pay taxes if I earn enough and if not, I still have to file them. And. I still vote.
I get upset when someone tells me it’s not my business because I care about my loved ones. I care about people of color, minorities and immigrants. Where do we ALL come from? History lesson #101.
I care about the LGBT community, the less fortunate and people who need medical care, both physical and mental. I care about issues like gun control, maternity leave, reproduction rights, religious tolerance, animal rights and saving our environment.
I also care about RESPECT and TOLERANCE towards others.
After writing this kind of stuff back to that one woman, another Trump supporter wrote, ‘Jess, it kinda sounds like you’re being intolerant, now doesn’t it?’.
My answer to that? ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right, I am intolerant to racism, homophobia, disrespect towards others, etc.’ And then he started in on how the US kicked Germany’s butt 2x and destruction to the EU, etc. It got real messy. I had to finally say, ‘His name, please stop, you’re embarrassing yourself because you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about’. I wrote some other word other than ‘heck’ though…
My friends, both American and German were quick to my rescue, supporting me the whole time. He finally backed down, but my goodness! What the what? sheesh!
This is what Trump has caused, folks! Some people now think they have permission to speak rudely towards others. And to insult minorities who don’t have the same privileges. It’s just sad and pathetic.
It’s emotionally draining, but I will never shy away from voicing my opinion and defending those who don’t have the same privileges as I. Which brings me to my next point.
What a Country That Cares for its People Actually Looks Like
Imagine going to the doctor or hospital and NOT having to worry about how you’re going to pay the massive bills.
Affordable healthcare is not a right or even a privilege in Germany, it’s a given!
I have family members and friends who are now scared of having their insurance being swept away from under their feet. I spoke for them on Saturday.
Imagine college graduates coming out debt-free.
College in Germany used to be completely free until they introduced a fee about a decade ago, which btw caused major uprising and protests around the country. The fee is around $300-500/year for a state university. Private are more. Affordable for most anyone and if you can’t pay, there are plenty of ways to get help. All you have to do is ask.
Paid Maternity Leave.
Imagine being able to take care of your baby for 3 years and still be guaranteed a job with the same company when you return. Imagine getting paid 67% of your salary for the first year! I don’t have to imagine, I experienced this!
You don’t have to hire a nanny and be stressed by going back to work 2 months later when all you really want to do is be with your newborn baby. The US is the ONLY industrialized nation with no paid maternity leave. Shocking!
This is NOT healthy, not for you as the mother nor for your baby. Heck, it’s not good for the employer either. Do you think those mothers are the best they can be? Working while being depressed about not being able to be with their babies? Wake up, corporate world!
Imagine having 24–30 (average is 28 actual working days, not counting weekends if you don’t normally work weekends) vacation days per year to actually travel, relax and rejuvenate your body and mind after many stressful working days/months.
Healthier, better tasting and cheaper food.
Imagine having strict govt. regulations on gmos and pesticides.
We still import though, but things are labeled, which can still be a bit confusing, but it’s better than in the states. It’s also less expensive and our produce actually has flavor, my sister claims. I’m scared that Bayer may buy out Monsanto though. We have LOTS of work to do if that happens too!
Equal pay for equal services.
Imagine being a woman earning the same as a man doing the same job. Yeah, imagine that. April fools. Germany’s not there yet either, so that issue is still real here too.
Imagine not having to worry about school shootings.
I’m sorry, but allowing guns in schools because of a bear threat is INSANE! I realize the threat is real, but come on, don’t you think there will be more problems if guns are allowed in schools? I don’t think, I know there will be!
I am SO glad this will NEVER be a problem over here. There have been shootings in Germany too, don’t get me wrong, but there is just no comparison.
Those who fight against control, please remember, no one will take away your toys. Gun control means just that: protect the innocent from people who clearly should not be around guns. Period.
The Homeless Get Help.
Imagine not seeing hungry, tired, cold, homeless people living in cardboard boxes.
There are homeless people here too, but they chose to live that way and stay off the grid. They don’t have to though. There are plenty of ways to get financial help, but you do have to earn it by showing up at the gov’t office and putting an effort into the system. It is not accepted to just sit on your butt and receive. There are exceptions and there are people who take advantage of the system here too, but it’s just not like in the states.
Concern About the Environment.
Imagine living in a country that respects its land.
Germany preserves its green space. We have around 83 million people living in the size of Montana and still, you see green spots everywhere. Even in the major cities.
I’m VERY green, but always have been. I recycled in the 80’s in South Carolina when it was a huge pain, but I’m finding that not much has changed since then. Sad. Greenville stopped recycling glass, they just STOPPED. I was there in December and was appalled! What should I do? Fly all my empty Yuengling beer bottles back home to recycle? I was heartbroken.
We recycle EVERYthing over here and have a million different containers to separate each piece of trash. In the states, I see people putting everything from batteries, plastic wrappers and beer bottles to dysfunctional coffee makers to food to paint and car oil jugs in ONE trash bag. Oh.My.God. Seriously, folks, this affects us all over the world!
Respect for Animals.
Imagine having a boxer with a long tail and adorable droopy ears and a cat with claws.
This is a huge issue for me too. I LOVE animals and will speak for them as long as I live. It is illegal to crop and declaw. Sure, I do have a little couch/bed damage, but I only notice it, no one else does.
I also pay taxes because I own a dog AND I had to take a written multiple choice TEST in order to keep my dog. I’m not joking.
Oh gosh, the list really does go on and on, but those are the main reasons why I love living in Germany and why I’ll never move back. Well, that and they brew the best beer ever. EVER!
I also want these things for my fellow Americans and I will continue to talk about these issues because I know there are people out there who are listening and fighting for the same thing.
YES, we all pay our dues, no doubt. The rich pay more than the middle class, the middle class more than the lower class. Germany is (almost) a Democracy with a Social System. I don’t think any country is a true 100% democracy. America, btw, is a republic.
And the words social, socialism or social system are NOT negative. What? The concept has such a bad rap in the states, only because it’s hugely misunderstood. All it really means is this that it’s a ‘we, the people’, not ‘me, myself and I’ system.
We don’t just talk about taking care of each other, we actually do it! Via programs similar to what I mentioned above…
Go Away, Americans, just Go Away!
I said in a radio interview on Friday and on Saturday on that podium that I wish every single American would live in a foreign country for at least one year. Just to embrace themselves in a different culture and get away from this American ‘ME’ ideology. That way, when they come back, they will be able to look at their own country with a different perspective. A more open worldly view. To look at the big picture and not just their own four walls.
It enlightened me to get away. Sure, it was hard to hear the huge amounts of criticism of the American system and mentality when I first moved, but then I realized, ‘damn, these people are right! What the heck are we doing? We are so greedy in the states and only care about ourselves’.
I have nothing against the ‘think globally, act locally’ concept, but as soon as it becomes a ‘think locally, act locally and that’s that’ mentality, that’s when problems start.
And with this administration, I fear it will even get worse. It has already started.
It’s not perfect here of course, but no means, but, for me, it’s SO much better. And I know, for a fact, that if Americans experienced what I have over the past 21 years, they may feel the same way.
Be open-minded. Listen to other points-of-view. And please, be kind.
So after these Facebook wars, I’m ready to breathe again. I’m ready to focus my energy on the actual issues at hand. I will continue to speak my mind, but will choose who is worthy of my time and will only communicate with those people. If I don’t, I will end up having a heart attack.
Let me leave you with this. I think it’s time for all of us to go back to the basics, stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘I am no better than anyone and nobody’s better than me.’ Kudos to this loving dad for showing us one powerful way how to instill tolerance, self-confidence and love in our children’s hearts and minds.
So, continue to voice your opinions because your voice matters and it needs to be heard! And as a fellow marching Canadian expat who knitted me a pussy hat on the fly within minutes said in her speech, ‘Fight for the minority groups who don’t feel they have a voice and who need our support to get them the same privileges’.
YES, power to the people who care about other people!
Originally published at medium.com