I’ve mentioned before that I have a friend, an American ex-pat in Central America, who’s been nagging me for a decade to leave the U.S..
I wrote about him more than a year ago. He’s still nagging (and offering kind assistance); I’m still dithering. In fact, to my discouragement, I discover that I’m at approximately the same stage of dithering I was at when I wrote the linked blog entry above. Inwardly I may have shifted in this direction or that. But I’ve neither said, “Yep, I’m on my way” nor “Nope. Ain’t goin’ and quit bugging me.” Nor am I close to either of those positions.
I know some of you — most of you, judging by the comments that earlier blog got — are opposed unto death to the notion of “abandoning your country.”
I’m not. But I’m in a different spot on the spectrum: I recognize that my country has abandoned nearly everything that made it “my country.” America was great because it was the shining beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. Sure it often failed in virtue. But … well, is this still “our” country if we’ve become the land of the 18th most free? Or the seventh most free (or wherever it falls for you on this freedom-seeker’s tally)?
On that tally, I find that if I choose gun rights as an absolutely crucial value, the U.S. still tops the freedom list. But run the numbers using nearly any other criteria and half-dozen or more other countries top the U.S.
Including — ulp! — one of the several countries my friend has been trying to persuade me to consider. In fact, that one’s rising year-by-year and looking really good.
Of course, these are just numbers. Based at least in part on subjective data. How much weight do they give to the NDAA and Obama’s policy of assassinating anybody he wants to assassinate? How much do a country’s laws matter and how much more important is culture or one’s particular locale within a country?
I’ve said before that I don’t feel unfree, where and as I am. It’s just that, like everybody else with eyes and a brain, I’m getting more worried every day. And the thing is, if the U.S. clamps down on guns, then it will have slid to … I don’t know where to. But so far from #1 that Americans won’t even be able to see what’s at the top of the freedom heap.
My friend, who has lived outside the U.S. for well over a decade (and maybe much longer, counting all the countries where he’s spent time), sees the United States solely as a place of danger. He thinks anybody who doesn’t get out in the next few months or the next year or two is DOOOOOMED.
I, on the other hand, see nuances — as anybody who conducts daily life here would. I see micro-climates for freedom. Even if things get as awful as my friend envisions, I don’t see the people of St. Regis, Montana, or Riverton, Wyoming, as doomed, though a lot of people in Detroit or Chicago might be doomed by the very same events.
When it comes to danger, of course I see awful potential for it here. Don’t we all? But I see my home, my town, my friends, my life, as relatively safe. I see this as a place where I know how to function, even as things get dicey on the national level. I also understand that the frog doesn’t know he’s being boiled until it’s too late.
Where I see danger is is the unknowns of expatriation. Living with foreign languages and laws and customs and above all living in places where it might never be possible to legally remain.
My friend has to restrain himself not to be absolutely dismissive of such concerns. His most nuanced perspective isn’t on the U.S., but on Central and South America, which to him is familiar and homey. Besides, his temperament embraces risk and insecurity. Mine doesn’t. Or rather, mine embraces only risks and insecurities that it can personally evaluate and choose to feel comfortable with.
So when he says, “Hey, don’t worry about the laws; all you have to do is bribe somebody!” or “So what if you can’t get legal residency? Nobody here cares,” I hear …. yuch. Why would I want to live like that? And he hears … I dunno, whiny, wimpy excuse-making.
It’s all a matter of perspective.