Two words: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!Urgh, I’m too full and too tired to type, or look at the computer screen. But, fine, I will post something since I haven’t written anything for a while. I’ve actually been wanting to write something since Obama got reelected for a second term and all those liberal wins happened in the 2012 US elections. So thrilled, I was so thrilled and I wanted to write something right that night! But we were working on a group project till 5:30am and we were supposed to present it the next day in class and I needed to rest for that. So that had led up to Thanksgiving, which gives me again a reason to get back to the topic of America – or more correctly, the United States. (I don’t really like calling the US America.)
Fair WARNING: Americans, you’re probably gonna get disappointed in me or your country the first half of this post. Keep reading toward the end. I have good things to say. PEACE OUT!
Guess what: I got to see both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney towards the close of their campaigns in the Midwest. Obama actually came to my school and there was a rally, to which I got a last minute ticket from a friend who couldn’t go. I was like 10-feet away from the president as he went up on stage. The president of the College Democrats got a hug from Mr. President as she introduced him on stage. Lucky her! And I went to the Romney rally in a nearby town with the College Republicans. Han Zaw hanging out with conservative people, WHAT? Yes, honey, I have conservative friends. We don’t “hang out” per se, but we maintain an amicable relationship. In fact, a conservative friend gave me a fabulous haircut this past Sunday, mm-hmm.
Anyway, I supported Obama all the way – at first secretly and gradually pushing people towards going out to vote and voting for Obama as the elections approached. His rally wasn’t that fun for me. I got in too easily. I hadn’t lined up for a ticket – because I had too much homework to do. I just got lucky that a sick friend decided to give out his ticket. And I had found out about his policies and vision and such, and I had seen the second presidential debate the night before he came to school. He pretty much reiterated in simplified language his plans. I don’t know what else I was expecting though. But I love that man, especially for the social causes that he is standing up for. And I believe his fiscal policies would work, if he has a second chance – which he does now. I genuinely wish things turn out well for him and his country. The Romney rally, on the other hand, was more fun. It was more of an adventure than a fun experience. I was completely out of my comfort zone in a sea of old white people getting super hyped up about their “America’s comeback team“, and I had dressed up in pink and heels and nail paint such effeminate gay stuff just to make a statement. You know what? Conservative people were actually nice to me, despite my obvious in-your-face looks! I was close to the front and a middle-age man actually let me pass so that I can shake hands with Mr Mittens. And, yup, I shook hands with Mitt – after which I didn’t wash my hand and touched my staunch liberal friends with that hand, haha. I also got to bond (a bit) with College Republicans. They played a Christian radio station in their car and we went out for a nice Italian dinner, and one of them payed for me. You know, on a personal level, I don’t think people active hate or discriminate those who are different. We’re just people, and we can obviously see that. When we do things on a larger scale with reference to social structure or a political system, the majority tends to oppress the minority.
(Does that make sense to you? Am I making any sense at all? Are the turkey and the mashed potatoes getting to me? Yes, yes, no? Good!)
I knew a lot of things went on on campus concerning this post. Things were happening behind my back that could’ve evolved into threats or attacks against me. Still, all this time, I couldn’t fathom what people were so sensitive about. Honestly, I just wish people had come up to me to talk about it. And I regret saying something like, “Don’t talk to me in person about this,” when I’d shared the post on Facebook. So much for overestimating the maturity of college kids!
More examples of bad Americans … Well, I should say “un-American” instead of “bad” because they are contrary to the image that America projects itself into the world and they’re bad only according to my personal standards. I’ve met some Americans who never wanna ever get out of their comfort zones.
I was born in this town and all my relatives live within a 100-mile radius. I graduated from a local high school and I’m going to college at a place barely out of my family circle. When I graduate, I’m getting a job (near) where I grew up/went to school. I’m gonna marry my childhood sweetheart or girlfriend/boyfriend from high school/college and we’re gonna settle down there.
I’ve met several people whose life stories go 90+% along that line. COME ON, you live in the United fucking States of America! Your ancestors crossed oceans and borders to be here for a new and better life. It’s not like you live in a utopia. You know that, everybody knows that, even if you think you live in the best country in the world (which is not true, I tell you), Where’s your sense of adventure? Don’t you want a better life for yourself and for your next generations? It’s ok sticking to your birthplace, if you have dreams of making it a better place. But that’s not on your list of things to do in life! 3 of my great-grandfathers came to Burma from China in search of a better life for themselves and for their next generations, and they succeeded. A large proportion of my generation in my family tree are on the move again. I have relatives in Singapore, some are looking into the UK and I am currently in the US. I am here for the education and if this land offers me a livelihood, I’d like to stay, and if it doesn’t, I’ll move on and away even further. But I intend to return to Burma one day, and also to China – to stay connected to my roots and to share my story. It also angers me that some Americans are so reluctant to learn foreign languages and foreign cultures – which is understandable since you have 50/51 freaking states within your country where almost everybody speaks the same language and you don’t really need to go abroad unless you want to. But making fun of each other’s accents, locality and culture even within your own country is NOT ok. I come from a very racially divided country, and I don’t do that! So you white people, stop hating on each other!
One more scenario, I’ve been told by an American “friend” – I can’t tell whether as a joke or in seriousness, but it’s inappropriate either way – that we third world countries should be proud that we are producing goods at low wages and for low prices for the people of the first world. WHAT THE FUCK? How does it even work?
How does that work? I just completed an intro sociology course. Sociology’s like: “Hey, let’s study society. What’s wrong with it? EVERYTHING!” But it actually seeks to raise people’s awareness of social issues and tries to find ways to correct them – which is really cool and has a strong liberal bias. The point is: we learn in class that capitalism has caused so many social problems. We focused a little too much of issues within and around America, and I was a little unhappy about it being the only international student in class. After the fall of feudalism, it reconstructs class stratification and class differences keep getting wider and wider; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There really is a class warfare going on: tax cuts (which are actually welfare for the rich) are being encouraged, and welfare for the poor/average citizens are being denied. And that kind of stuff. I think I’m getting off topic. As labour laws got implemented in the US, corporations started downsizing themselves within the US and started moving their production to foreign lands. And they move to foreign lands where labour is cheap and is not well-regulated. As a result, folks (working class citizens) in the US lose their jobs, traditional job markets (like farming for traditional food crops) would get destroyed in foreign lands and those foreigners are offered shitty jobs. Yes, you get more products at cheap prices that way but ways of life are changed negatively both in the US and where labour is outsourced. Globalization isn’t all that great. Capitalist globalization – in the name of economic development – is very exploitative. Am I making any sense here? I don’t know. It’s a silly thing trying to cram 2 or 3 weeks of class material into a couple or more sentences. Bottom line: capitalism has become very unethical and insensitive. On a side note, we got to read a writing by Max Weber about how religious belief/ideology fuels work ethics in capitalism. That was pretty cool.
And other readings in class included “Lakota Woman” by Mary Crow Dog and “Mississippi: An American Journey” by Anthony Walton. They’re some sort of autobiographical accounts by a Native American/Indian woman and an African American man. Those were the material for learning about racial stratification. Fascinating stuff! I can barely laud for the achievements of a country that was built by the genocide of one race and by the enslavement of another. My opinion on the United States is that it is a country founded unethically by rogue people who ran away from their homelands because they couldn’t do what they want. And ironically, despite all my harsh criticism, that is the very mentality with which I came to America. I can’t do what I want back in Burma so I just came to America to do whatever the fuck I want, oh yeah! And I kinda like it better here – as much as I miss home.
[I just changed my music from Lana Del Rey to Mika coz I just realized I’m being uber cynical.]
But I DO like America – especially because of those who have not forgotten that everyone on this land has been part of a intercontinental/cross-border migration and because of those who believe not one person or one group shouldn’t have their way and impose it on others but that we can all coexist as we are. These kinds of people outnumber the assholes that I’d mentioned earlier. I can count those assholes, and these nice people, I can point in any direction and they’d be there. Ok, nice Americans … These people know it wasn’t easy coming to a new land, settling down and trying to prosper. They’ve had help from those who came earlier and they’ve made it here. They sympathize with newcomers and try to help them out. And they branch out to new networks and learn new cultures along the way. It’s a chain reaction, a domino effect, which is absolutely beautiful. I love such people dearly. For Thanksgiving break, I’m in the household of pretty well-off (upper) middle class family of one of my girl friends. They stuffed me with good food (and wine), gave me the family room in the basement to sleep in and take me to places in and around town. They have a piano in the living room and let me play it – that’s a plus. At this very moment, I’m sitting in an armchair with a foot-rest typing up the good and bad things I’ve experienced about/in America. There’s a nice warm fireplace on my right, this computer on my laps, a glass of cold apple cider on my left, a dog chewing on a toy at my feet and Mika playing in my ears. I’m thankful for acts of kindness like this; they took me in and they hadn’t seen me or barely heard of me before. I can’t imagine a break from school otherwise. They’re giving me the sense of home and family that I can’t get going to school so far away from home. I’ve been needing a break so bad. This is so beautiful it makes me wanna cry. And I don’t wanna go back to school; I hate it – even though my next class is a music theory class by my beloved academic advisor. Also, I’ll be staying at the home of a Jewish friend in the Long Island area (NY) during winter break. They’re also nice people like these people here in this house, I’m sure.
Also, it’s amazing to see how a lot of present-day Americans are aware of and try to correct the historical shortcomings of the United Staes and the modern social issues. Progressive, I’d say. I’m really happy how people are able to learn from the past and move forward. Independence in 1776 and, although you had destroyed native civilizations, you have successful rebuilt a civilization in the 1900s. And it’s a pretty damn nice metropolis, and cosmopolitan – probably one of the most remarkable in modern history. Congratulations, Americans!
I am completely clueless still to what America stands for as a whole. But I’m sure of this: It has come a long way in a short while and it has a long way to go – toward a perfect democratic nation – and it’s trying to get there. I really appreciate it, America. I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful that I am able to see that, to experience during my time here. I’ve always described my experience coming to America with “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This“ by Eurhythmics because that’s how America makes me feel. Starting from now, I think I’ll add on “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit to my description of America. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
P.S. Thanksgiving has never been so meaningful to me. I baked quiches for my dear academic advisor and my 2 wonderful RAs, who have been of tremendous help in helping me survive this semester.