You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to figure out that I love Laos. It’s pretty obvious and I’m not ashamed of it at all. As a matter of fact, I’m probably a little obnoxious about it but I can’t help it. The thing is is that I’m not Lao. I’m American. And I’m ok with that because I love America too.
There seems to be a trend of bitterness towards America for people who move or travel outside of America for long periods of time. There are plenty of reasons for this but I think the biggest is that we often see the faults and mistakes of things the more disconnected we get from them. You get away from America and you start seeing all it’s problems magnified. You may have sensed them in America but all of a sudden every time you look back home you see faults and weakness.
Americans, believe it or not, are not perfect. We’re generally materialistic, selfish, and are more preoccupied with that corner office with the high-paying salary than wether or not the person sitting across the dining room table has had a good day. And, yet, I can still sit here and tell you I love my country. How? First, because I realize no place is perfect. Guess what, Laos and every other country out there has problems too. America isn’t alone. Second, because hating a place just because you’ve found something wrong with it doesn’t make sense to me.
I can find nothing useful from hating my own country. If I decided to choose hatred and bitterness for every problem I face then none of those problems would ever be resolved. Eventually I would back myself into a corner where I could no longer turn away and then I’m just stuck with a lot of disappointment and bitterness. You can’t escape the failures of this world. You can only stand and face them hoping to be enough of a change to make a difference. Unrealistic optimism? Maybe but it’s better than doing nothing.
That leads me to the second reason why I still love America. I choose to see the positive things about my country. I don’t ignore the shortcomings but I don’t let them dominate my view of America. Yes, I’m an optimistic person. There’s no hiding it but that doesn’t mean I ignore the bad things. I just don’t let them control how I view things.
Just like no country is perfect I also believe every place has something good to offer. We often ignore these things because we are either stuck wallowing in our own bitterness or because we don’t want to see anything good. Sometimes it feels good to hate and we want to keep it that way. Hating just happens to get you nowhere and so I choose to find the things about American that I love. Among many things, I’m grateful to be in a place that values equality and, in theory, strives for a society that respects you no matter who you are or where you come from. I’m also thankful to have a family and community here that is loving and caring. Without the generosity of the people here I would never be able to live in Laos. So, whenever I look back and see the problems of America I also see the things that make me love it.
No place is perfect so running into problems shouldn’t be a surprise. What you do with those problem or what you let those problems do to you is the key. Really, it’s up to you. I decided to love my country.