|Becoming a US Citizen and all the amazing people who came to witness|
this incredible moment.
Growing up in South Africa I always thought of America as a very intimidating country. Watching the news America was always portrayed as the quarterback, the main man, and the rest of the world just mere spectators.
In 1990 I had an opportunity to come to America and I embarked on the journey with my carefree adventurous spirit. America was nothing to what I thought it would be. I thought that everyone was wealthy, there was no homeless and kids didn't get lower than a B in school. I guess I watched too much American TV and the news to not think any differently. To say that this was a huge culture shock is not giving the in your face glaring reality of something that wasn't, zero credit. There were homeless people, lots of homeless people; the ignorance and lectures I had to endure from many people when they learned I was from South Africa are too numerous to mention and I quickly learned that not every kid in school got straight A's and there were even some who didn't go to school.
There was, however, one thing that remained the same. The confidence of the American people with some bordering on arrogance was still intimidating to me, but then I saw what many accomplished and how their dreams were being realized and it opened my eyes to a different perception. Everyone worked together in some form or another, smiled and the tone of the country was contentment. It became the house with the white picket fence dream and I was taking on all that it had to offer.
Fast forward to today and this is not the country I was introduced to 24 years ago. We have a government who can't seem to get their shit together and have lost the "We the people" mentality to the "What's in it for me" attitude. Daily on Twitter I watch people name calling, trash talking and generally hitting below the belt when you happen to mention your opinion. A while ago I had posted an article that Rachel Maddow had written and immediately someone who followed me wrote "Hey look everyone, another feminist c___ on Twitter." I was floored. I have seen an ugly side to people who when they feel they are not winning the argument the name calling begins. We are truly a country divided.
We salivate over reality TV to see wealthy, poor et al go at each other. We are no better than the Romans going to the Colossum to watch Christians being barbarically murdered. The news media is split and the non fact checking garbage that is out there is enough to make ones head explode. My husband's philosophy is that anyone who listens and believes what a person is saying on the TV/Radio must remember that these people rely on ratings to help fatten their wallets, and the more bizarre the claim the better.
No one smiles anymore. Today I went for a walk and every person I passed I smiled at and it wasn't reciprocated or maybe they thought that there was something wrong with this smiling woman all bundled up. I watched people in cars on their cell phones rushing to where ever they were going, like ants on a mission. As I sat in the bakery I overheard a conversation about money and Christmas debt and how this person was going to have to find a second job to pay off their credit cards. One only has to see Black Friday and what it has become and you have to ask yourself "Why?" what void is trying to be filled.
Did you know that 105 suicides are committed a day in America? According to The American Association Suicidology those numbers have dramatically increased since 2010. After the Wall Street fiasco life in the house with the white picket fence America was no more. So many Americans lost their homes and are living out of their cars or in tent cities. We have people losing their unemployment benefits, college students graduating with an insane amount of debt and many families taking on second jobs to survive. It seems that the majority of the American people are just surviving and that depression is slowly eating away at that confidence that I witnessed many years ago.
As we face 2014 my wish for everyone this year is to be kind to yourself and each other. Focus on what you have, what is around you, take long walks, dance in the rain, laugh more, love as if this is your last moment on earth and most importantly, smile.