Love the country, but hate your brother????

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If you look at the world map, you will see that Europe is rather small. I grew up 10 minutes away from the Italian border, could drive to Germany in about 2 hours and Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Czech Republic, and Hungary were just a few hundred kilometers away. Different cultures, different languages, and different looks lived just around the corner and were rather appealing to me; it never scared me.

It’s not all “hunky dory” in Europe either. Europe is a mix of different countries, with different languages and all countries together have a rather complicated history. 

Both, the First and the Second World War, had left scars in every country. Almost every family had lost loved ones. Borders got moved around. People belonged all of a sudden to a different country, just because they grew up close to a border and state line. I can tell, it happened to my family farm; it got divided in the middle.

Did I like everybody in the countries around me? No, I didn’t. I grew up with prejudices myself. I learned not to trust the people from the Eastern states too much. They were all communists -so I had learned in school- even though many of them didn’t want to be. Many things I felt, because I had been raised to feel that way. I adjusted my opinions when I grew older. Some foreign workers, with darker skin, looked rather scary. They talked funny, and we didn’t trust them right away. They came to help us with farm work, we needed them and liked the way they worked, but we didn’t want anything to do with them. Most of them were from Turkey, Greece and the former Yugoslavia. Over time we got used to them, tried their dishes, learned their songs and heard more about their history and culture. Over time we respected one another, over time, we became friends.

I married and moved over 3,000 miles to live here in the U.S. with my husband. I would call myself a liberal, in every meaning of the word. I don’t judge people for gender, sexual orientation, the color of the skin or religion. It doesn’t mean I like everybody and everything, it just means I am open minded toward everything and give everybody a fair chance. It means I don’t rank myself as “higher” or “lower” than the people around me.

I learned that being a liberal in Europe made me a SUPER-liberal here.

I wasn’t scared of America, not at all.  I knew a lot about the civil war, could name Presidents, states, and capital cities had learned a lot in our history classes. I knew the exact date and place of J.F. Kennedy’s assassination and had read almost everything about the civil rights movement. I was curious about all the different cultures, couldn’t wait to see Chinatown and wanted to meet native Americans. I knew there were colored people in the U.S., and I was looking forward to meeting them as well. I had read books like “Roots” and knew Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. There was a time when things had been difficult in the United States, but all the hate and all the discrimination happened 20 years earlier in the 60’s. America was at peace in the mid 80’s when I came here. It was the United States of America, and the word UNITED made pretty clear to me, that ALL people were one union. Everything else was a relic of the past…so I thought.

We didn’t have too much money when we got married, and we moved to a “mixed” neighborhood. Our next door neighbors were Asians, the couple across the hall was black (the word African American was used later, I never got the memo).

We all were students, and we all were poor. We all accepted each other, we all got along. I remember an argument. I don’t recall what it was about, but I know that the guy from across the hall called me “snowflake.”

I smiled at him when he said it, thought he called me that because I was born and raised in lots of snow. My husband explained later on that he said it because I was white. I walked over, knocked on his door and told him that I didn’t want anything to do with his racial bullshit, but I liked being called “snowflake” it reminded me of home. I can still hear him laughing. I called him “a chocolate cookie”…we are best friends every since. 

Over the years I learned that this country is not at peace. What I thought was a relic of the past, is a fact of our everyday life. Some things are better than they were 50 years ago, but there is still a long way to go. I feel like living near a volcano. It looks good and peaceful from far away, but you will hear the rumbling and feel the heat, the closer you will get. It’s alive and will erupt one day when we won’t expect it at ll. 

Racism is existing and is practiced every day. It’s black against white; it’s white against black. Then it’s black and white against Latinos and Asians and vice versa. An endless list, an ongoing thing. Even a wanna-be Presidential candidate has no moral these days and is running a campaign based on name calling, hate, and racism. Sadly he has followers.

I try to stay out of it; don’t want anything to do with it. That’s the one time when I can say I stay above it all. That’s the only time; I distance myself from everybody around me. I come from a country where Millions got murdered because of hate; I know better. 

I am so tired of this racial bullshit. I feel like I am walking on eggshells. Can I say “this,” can I say “that and if I do, whose feeling do I hurt this time? Can I call you an idiot, regardless of the color of your skin? Do I have to act differently, because of the color of your skin?

I feel like I am forced to take sides, and I don’t want to. I feel like I am being pushed into a drawer, and it’s suffocating me. 

When will we be united? When will we all just be Americans?

The history has left its scars, this cannot be changed, it can only be accepted. Many things happened way before we were even born. The past can be an evil companion, it can sit on our shoulder and whisper in our ear and bring us down, but it can although be a helpful guide and a friend into a brighter future. 

We decided how to use our past. It’s the attitude we show in our everyday lives. We can’t undo what has been done, but we can raise above.

A black friend told me once, “You don’t get it, my great grandparents were slaves.” I just looked at her, “You don’t understand, my grandfather was in a concentration camp”. It’s not a competition of the ghosts of the past. 

Will there be a time, when we all will just be Americans? Will there be a day, when we all will live and follow the pledge?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Patriotism should be more than just waving a flag. The dictionary definition of patriotism is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” and I wish we would include ALL people in our love, not just the country. 

My wish would be that we would start living the way we pledge. 

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I Pledge Allegiance

Are you patriotic? What does being patriotic mean to you?

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49 thoughts on “Love the country, but hate your brother????

  1. Pingback: I Pledge Allegiance? | Wanderlust and Wonderment

  2. Reblogged this on Wanderlust and Wonderment and commented:
    I too have always been concerned about the issue of racism. I grew up in the 1960s and heard on the news about riots in this or that city. Some cities (like Milwaukee, near where I lived) imposed curfews because they were “afraid” that racial violence would break out in their communities!
    When I was 12 or 13, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and it had a tremendous impact on me. A few years later, I went to a high school in Arizona where I met people of other races for the first time. I learned about the Black Power movement, the civil rights movement, hippies and the peace movement, and wept along with other students at the death of Martin Luther King Jr. I dated a guy there who was black. In high school, my abhorrence for racism solidified, not only because of the people I met there (the school had a mission of multiculturalism and cross-cultural understanding), but also the field trips we took to Mexico and the Navajo Reservation. People look back on the 1960s and think it was such a terrible time, but I am glad that I grew up while these issues were being brought out in the open and discussed. My world view was forever shaped and changed by attending that school and growing up in the late 1960s.
    Today, I still hold onto the beliefs I formed then. I am “left of liberal” in my political and social viewpoint and do not consider liberal a dirty word! I admire many of the things that the Europeans have done – raising taxes to provide free health care and education for all, making cities bike and pedestrian friendly, making it difficult to have easy access to guns, and making a commitment to green energy. Sometimes I wish the USA would institute similar reforms. But we are a stubborn and often xenophobic people, whose country has its roots in breaking free of despotic governments. Our Constitution is wonderful, but unfortunately not always interpreted in a progressive (i.e. modern and changing) way. It is often very frustrating to live in the USA, but I am glad that I have had many opportunities to travel and live abroad.
    I am also aware that no country is perfect, but that all have both good and bad. People are the same everywhere, with their prejudices and fears of “the other”. I think it is particularly prevalent today, since 9/11. Many Europeans must also be feeling afraid of all the immigrants from the Middle East flowing into their countries. Yet many of their countries are accepting a large number of these refugees to settle there. I am not afraid of such immigrants; what I fear most is that intolerance and greed will continue to lead us in a foreign policy that is anathema to Muslims of the Middle East. We left a power vacuum in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and it looks as though we may try to topple Assad in Syria, leaving a power vacuum there as well. This is an open invitation for extremists such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and/or ISIS to take over.
    Well, there are many problems in the world, a lot of extremism not just in the Middle East, but here in the USA also. It is heartening to read a post like the one below, expressing the need for tolerance and openness. As long as there are people with similar views, there is hope for better times to come!!

  3. Well said! I too have always been concerned about the issue of racism. I grew up in the 1960s and heard on the news about riots in this or that city. Some cities (like Milwaukee, near where I lived) imposed curfews because they were “afraid” that racial violence would break out in their communities!

    When I was 12 or 13, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and it had a tremendous impact on me. A few years later, I went to a high school in Arizona where I met people of other races for the first time. I learned about the Black Power movement, the civil rights movement, hippies and the peace movement, and wept along with other students at the death of Martin Luther King Jr. I dated a guy there who was black. In high school, my abhorrence for racism solidified, not only because of the people I met there (the school had a mission of multiculturalism and cross-cultural understanding), but also the field trips we took to Mexico and the Navajo Reservation. People look back on the 1960s and think it was such a terrible time, but I am glad that I grew up while these issues were being brought out in the open and discussed. My world view was forever shaped and changed by attending that school and growing up in the late 1960s.

    Today, I still hold onto the beliefs I formed then. I am “left of liberal” in my political and social viewpoint and do not consider liberal a dirty word! I admire many of the things that the Europeans have done – raising taxes to provide free health care and education for all, making cities bike and pedestrian friendly, making it difficult to have easy access to guns, and making a commitment to green energy. Sometimes I wish the USA would institute similar reforms. But we are a stubborn and often xenophobic people, whose country has its roots in breaking free of despotic governments. Our Constitution is wonderful, but unfortunately not always interpreted in a progressive (i.e. modern and changing) way. It is often very frustrating to live in the USA, but I am glad that I have had many opportunities to travel and live abroad.

    I am also aware that no country is perfect, but that all have both good and bad. People are the same everywhere, with their prejudices and fears of “the other”. I think it is particularly prevalent today, since 9/11. Many Europeans must also be feeling afraid of all the immigrants from the Middle East flowing into their countries. Yet many of their countries are accepting a large number of these refugees to settle there. I am not afraid of such immigrants; what I fear most is that intolerance and greed will continue to lead us in a foreign policy that is anathema to Muslims of the Middle East. We left a power vacuum in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and it looks as though we may try to topple Assad in Syria, leaving a power vacuum there as well. This is an open invitation for extremists such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and/or ISIS to take over.

    Well, there are many problems in the world, a lot of extremism not just in the Middle East, but here in the USA also. It is heartening to read your post expressing the need for tolerance and openness. As long as there are people with similar views, there is hope for better times to come!!

  4. You said, “Will there be a time, when we all will just be Americans? Will there be a day, when we all will live and follow the pledge?” We can only hope.
    In my time the term liberal has become worse than communist, religious people spread hateful messages, honesty and integrity are old fashioned terms, used by people who saved.

  5. Racists come in all colors and shapes. You don’t have to take sides with none of them. Keep being a good neighbor, friend and citizen the way you are. Thank you for your post!

  6. I like what you’ve said, but can I add something? I think there’s a difference between the prejudice of whites, which is backed up by deep economic and power inequality (one place the legacy of slavery comes into the picture) and by the racism rooted in police departments and the justice system, and the prejudices of African Americans, which aren’t backed up by society’s powerful mechanisms. Neither one is defensible, but they have different weights, different impacts, different power.

    It’s fascinating to see the US and its insanity through the eyes of someone who didn’t grow up there. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine that the gulf between black and white wasn’t the central division in the entire world. I was raised by consciously anti-racist parents, but from what I saw around me the world seemed to be divided that way.

    • The racism here in the U.S. is something that I try to understand since over 30 years and I am not closer to an answer today as I have been in the 80’s.

      On Sunday they sit in front of the TV and cheer for the football team. The team has to win and it doesn’t matter who will have the touchdown. They wear shirts with players names, the color of the skin doesn’t matter when it comes to sport. Only the result matters.

      Then on Monday the hate continues.

      There is so much more I could write about this. Moving into another country is an adventure. I could write books about it.

      You are right, the world is divided and I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

  7. When I worked in the Chicago, IL metro area, I had friends of all different cultures and ethnics. We got along great! Best conversation I ever had on the subject of religion during our lunch hour one day, (Pre 9/11/2001) Was Christian, there were 2 Jewish gentlemen, a Muslim, a Buddhist, an Atheist, and an Arabic guy. We compared and contrasted our different beliefs. The main theme in all was LOVE!

    If our boss had ever found out about our conversation, we would have been subject to dismissal from our company. We did not try to convert each other, just educate!

    • Communication is the key to so many things. I enjoy having friends of all different cultures, it widens my horizon. I often feel that people don’t even listen anymore. They hear you, but they don’t listen.

  8. Thirst of power has been causing wars for centuries…
    Poverty , illiteracy and ignorance do the rest , strengthening hate and arrogance….

    I’m not sure it’s an easy problem to solve , ever!

  9. I wish I could do the same but our attitude to refugees and their cruel treatment in off-shore detention camps is too much. The UNHCR has continiously rebuked Australia for the dreadful treatment of refugees.. Perhaps a change of government might undo this dreadfull xenophobia .
    I mean, my family came by boat too.
    Of course we like our country and pledge loyalty but under protest.

  10. This post is a must read!… I agree with you in many levels…
    You say above> “Racism is existing and is practiced every day. It’s black against white, it’s white against black. Then it’s black and white against Latinos and Asians and vice versa. An endless list…an ongoing thing”.
    Well those words really resonated with me… Plus Racism is not strictly something related with different people… It could apply to social classes, status, political views and so on…
    I think that many countries even in Europe are assuming these days a very racist position, even more after the Charlie Hebdo issue, earlier this year!.
    Thank so much for sharing. All my best wishes to you! Aquileana a ⭐

  11. Absolutely well said….. I have a feeling that the world will be a better place with people like you. Everybody wants to claim they are right,nobody wants to accept they are wrong at any point in time & that’s one of the issues we are facing in today’s world. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  12. Wonderful thoughts. Like you, I also am very interested in learning about the hypocrisies of societies in terms of race not only in the U.S. (where I was born), but also in the rest of the world. While I’m aware of it, it’s interesting to hear your perspective on prejudices in Europe, since I did not grow up there. But in any case, I can see your frustration with racism and prejudice everywhere; granted they are inevitable, but remember that we’ve made efforts to improve the situation over the decades. Society is far from being less bigoted, but as I have told many people, the first step is to educate people about the consequences of their actions in regards to race: whether it’s making assumptions about a particular group of people or calling one a slur, learning to get out of that mindset is a small step to improving conditions for all groups of people. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

    • I could write a novel as an answer to your comment. The tolerance for racism is higher here, just look at the South. I lived there for a few years and it floored me, suffocated me. There is still racism in Europe too, the European Union hasn’t changed a thing. Maybe it will better in another 50 years, but I doubt it. It’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of everything that’s different. Look at Trump campaigning with hate against Mexicans and he gets the numbers. A scapegoat is all some need. It’s scary and sad.

      Thank you for reading my post.

  13. You write well about a complication issue/s and from a very interesting perspective. I find consolation in the amount of love I experience, see, and give to the world. I’m not surprised by fear, hate, or discord anymore. I’m shocked by love.

  14. Reblogged this on Impromptu Promptlings and commented:
    The insights that our lovely Ms. Ladybug bring to the subject of patriotism totally leave me speechless. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read on here AND (hold on to your seats) it was in response to a Daily Prompt. Well done, girlfriend. This was an awesome post.

    • I do too. For me it’s scary to watch, it’s like history repeats itself. Sometimes I do wonder “haven’t we learned anything”. The hate that we witness today in this country is scary, it worries the world…but we go on..some of us. Thank you for reading my post and thank you for your comment. I am always left speechless when I see a comment from you. It’s like getting a gold star..OK maybe not “gold” but it does feel like a star. 🙂

  15. Pingback: Snowflake and chocolate cookie. | juststuffifoundontheinternet

  16. Loved your post! Gosh! Thank you for sharing.
    Yes, I am happy here and feel so lucky I was born here because in some country, deaf people are not allowed to drive.

  17. Well said. And it’s particularly interesting because you come from a background different than most Americans can even imagine. I think Europeans have an advantage in getting to experience differences in ethnicity and culture from early childhood. It may not make them more tolerant, but it takes the shock out of discovering everyone in the world doesn’t look “like me.”

    Racism is complicated. It’s not just what people say. It’s what they feel, how they react, they way they interact with other people. It can be very subtle and that’s the hardest to deal with.

    • It’s although highly stupid and that’s the worst to deal with. You just can’t beat stupid, so it seems. I felt like I was drowning when we lived in the South. Not all of them are racists, but way too many. I felt like we had moved to a different country (don’t get me started). Sending an open minded European with a big mouth to the deepest South was a punishment for something I did not do. I had BBQ’s with stupid, I lived next door to stupid…it made me scream inside. Neighbors told me “you have to vote white, because that’s what we do”. I was outright scary. There is not a thing in the world you can say or do to reach them. There is a wall in their brains -or a missing part- that can’t be taken down.

      It’s one of the subjects were you can’t shut me up.

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