>I’m going to ask you to indulge me a bit.
Astrologically, the USA is considered a Cancerian (no pun intended). So was my father, who was born a few days earlier.
It wasn’t until recently that I managed to see a parallel between my relationships with the two.
I’m an Aquarian, and for those who don’t follow Astrology, we don’t really get along well with Cancers. We think they’re drama queens interested in inanity, they think we’re cruel sadists out to break their hearts when it hurts the most for the sake of proving our individualism.
I spent the majority of my childhood being somewhat idolised (admittedly due to sexism) in my father’s eyes. He was a Vet two times over, and subscribed to the 1930s-era of children being subservient to their parents. In his eyes, I was like The Little Prince. It also helped that it was the 1980s, and there was some degree of innocence left in popular children’s culture.
Then came my rebellious years, wherein I horrified my father.
Now, everyone in general is expected to rebel while a teenager, but I saved mine until I went to college. Coming Out was not a rebellion, and to be terribly honest, I did not expect to be, nor was the news treated as such. (It was more of a “that’s nice, son.”)
My rebellion came when my father realised that the pleasant, well-mannered, slightly independent boy left for college and came back a pleasant, well-mannered Socialist young man.
I was never one of those “down with the tyrants” type of Socialists, but rather a “everyone deserves a fair go.” And by “fair go,” I do mean a level playing field.
This sort of thinking doesn’t go down well in the US, because the US is about maintaining a certain facade, and maintaining that facade is paramount for its own mental health.
“Liberty and equality for all?”
Sure, the US is practicing that.
Never mind that it’s been under a century since I, as a Black American have had a vote.
Never mind that my own state thinks that it is wrong to deny me even recognition of my partnership because it is with another man.
Never mind that in order to build that American Dream, it must be built on the backs of underpaid, underprotected workers and a mainstream society gone Cuckoo for Credit Card Capitalism.
I truly believe that the US is a nation that cannot at all afford to take such a hard look at itself, because it would disintegrate.
Yet, it’s my literal homeland, and I can’t help but have affection for it.
Remember how I said that I horrified my father? It wasn’t because I was gay. It wasn’t because I spoke my mind. It was because I could point out where the flaws were in the national dream that he, and many others Americans like him, had. I could also point out that it was not one that I wanted.
And that brought a chill to our relationship as father and son. One where he would bemoan my cigarette smoking*, and I his provincialism.
* Interestingly, when I was growing up. My father would castigate anyone who smoked in front of me–including relations. He also nearly burnt our house down whenever I ran the risk of catching him smoking. The image of being a non-smoker was more important than the action.
Nonetheless, when my father passed away in February 2002, I could honestly say that we had reached a honest, lasting civility. One where we could understand that the bond we had as family did not mean that we had to blindly accept the other.
That’s how I feel about the US. I care about it, because it is where I grew up and I still have family there, but I cannot bring myself to truly accept that it is the Zion it likes to believe itself to be. The US just can’t bring itself to reconcile its dreams and its reality, and I could only see myself turning into someone I was not meant be, the longer I remained.
Australia is certainly far from perfect, but I have to truly applaud it at how Australian society does value each person and how Australians are proud of their ability to call the proverbial ‘bullshit” when there is discrimination.
I’m proud that I now live in a country where a majority of the populace straight and gay says that it is wrong to deny same sex couples marriage…no matter what the ruling party says. I’m also proud that I now live in a place where it is truly believable that discrimination will get reversed. I’m proud that the nation is willing to work at improving life across the board, and not still confused by the failure of trickle down economics.
And yet, I’m still proud of Obama. I’m still proud that there is hope for American society to truly learn to embrace its citizens, even if it must be long and arduous, and fraught with residual bigotry at every turn because it does not fit some absurd national myth.
I just don’t want to live in that kind of society and I don’t want my future child to live in that one either.
So the US & I are civil with each other. I can never be as close to it as I used to be, and that’s fine.
At this moment, I’m enjoying a very chilly winter’s night in NSW. It’s -4C. This is the kind of weather I love. If every 4 July from here on in will be like this, I will be happy.
I’ll just make sure to spend Australia Day in the Upper Midwest.