Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pondering the expat thing — an update

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.
~ Katherine Lee Bates, "America the Beautiful"
Last year, Ira Katz — an American mechanical engineer employed in Paris — considered the life of an American expatriate in “To be an expat?”

What are the burrs under Katz's saddle? America’s economic and monetary shenanigans. Our cultural superficiality. And especially President Bush’s arrogant and utopian foreign policy in response to 9/11:
… “Everything has changed since 9/11” is a propaganda slogan that Orwell would appreciate. Thus nation building, which was wrong during the 2000 campaign, is now good policy. Add the domestic policy of Lyndon Johnson and no opposition party and you have a country, an empire, headed toward debt and ruin.

What did an insightful Roman of the 5th century think about his country, or even an intelligent Russian in 1985? What does a simple citizen do in times like these?

If a person entered the room proclaiming how great he was, the correct response would be to shun such a pompous jerk. But that is just the way the USA behaves. What should we do? A change in attitude would be a good start. …
I find much to agree with Katz about. He concludes:
The founders had the right idea — no alliances, no war, but trade with all. A smaller, humbler government overseas would lead to a precipitous drop in the number of terrorists. A smaller, humbler government at home would make us a better country overall. We need to stop trying to be great and concentrate on being good.

As for me I know I will always be an American and love my country; but I will unfortunately always loathe my government.* This is true even if I may be living somewhere else among people who have every reason to be proud of their own lands and probably every reason to loathe their own governments.
Many of my friends and family already know that we’ve considered the possibility of moving to New Zealand, and the Web-Wide World has known it since I originally posted this last July.

Then in August, we took a 3-week trip to "En Zed" (the Brit pronunciation of "NZ") to check the place out. To say it is a lovely, lovely country with wonderful people doesn't even begin to tell the story! (See our NZ travel pics here.)

But while we haven't ruled NZ out completely, we returned home with a strong sense that, despite her flaws, the US is our home, and for us to abandon her in this time of great difficulty would be to throw in the towel: "Stick a fork in us, we're done."

We hope to see America return to her former, more godly and genuinely humble greatness — what we believe the early colonists and Founders once envisioned. And we can't shake the feeling that we may have something to contribute to that hoped-for course correction.

If things start to look truly ugly here — e.g., if America begins drafting her sons — and daughters — to pursue a misguided, arrogant, messianic foreign policy of "[ridding] the world of evil" — then we may be forced to turn our eyes overseas.

But for the time being, we plan on sticking around a bit.
* I certainly don’t think God’s Word permits Christians to “loathe their governments.” But I see nothing in Scripture that says we ought not loathe what we see as our governments’ unrighteous or unjust actions.

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