I have a mixed marriage. I am American and my wife is British (now also American). My children are mixed – British & American Nationals.
I have contemplated becoming like them – a Bi-National.
And yet — I have always had reservations about doing such a thing — because, on some level, I feel like I would ‘become’ a little ‘less American’ in order to be ‘A Little Bit British’.
It’s crazy, I know. Stupid and irrational. But it’s there, in my gut — and I can deny it all I like but it’s there: I AM AN AMERICAN THROUGH & THROUGH.
This country has ‘IMPRINTED’ something on me that I can only call ‘I’m An American’. I take incredible pride (most of the time) in what that means (or SHOULD mean) to the rest of the world. It is a vital part of how I define myself — to the World and to myself. I start each day having certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS because of where I was born, who I was born to and what Nationality THEY were.
Despite all the bullshit and nonsense that gets thrown at all Americans as they grow up in American Culture on their way to Becoming Full Fledged ‘Americans’, there IS a CORE CONCEPT that has become ‘The American Ideal’ — the conceptual BEACON whose radiance has attracted hopeful people for 240+ years:
If you are willing to work your ass off — and be a good citizen while doing it — America is THE place where ANYONE can ‘MAKE SOMETHING’ of themselves.
That is what has brought so many bright, talented, hopeful people from all over the World to this place. THIS IS AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM.
It ain’t White Christian Men circle jerking each other — that’s for sure.
Now — full disclosure — I grew up upper middle class in an upper middle class (Jewish) suburb outside of Baltimore in the 60’s & 70’s. I had a LOT more privilege than LOTS of other people. I had advantages and opportunities they didn’t. It was not a level playing field. I know that and it disturbs me.
America always provided me with opportunity (with the occasional, unspoken ‘we’ve already allowed enough Jews in the door, can ya try again later maybe?’). Every dream I ever imagined — provided I was willing to provide the Sweat Equity — had a reasonable chance at getting off the ground at least. The fairness we aspire to has been slow to actually stand up on its own two feet. It’s getting more help recently. Lots more women to make SURE Fairness not only gets to stand up but gets to STAY up.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if ‘Fairness’ became a thing again. How about ‘Fair’ Elections — radical notion, right?
‘FAIRNESS’ has always been pretty illusory in America. It’s always depended where you stood as to whether ‘Fairness’ would come your way. But I grew up believing that ‘Fairness’ actually existed in America — that it COULD exist here. The more diverse America becomes, curiously, the more FAIR it becomes — and the more EXCEPTIONAL it becomes.
So, to me — FAIRNESS isn’t a thing unto itself, it is the BOTTOM LINE on which ALL THINGS REST.
Everyone gets a FAIR shot here. Or no one does. That’s what ‘America’ means to me. It’s that simple.
As I witness the republican party urinating & defecating all over the very notion of ‘Fairness’, I mourn for a piece of us. It never WAS capable of ‘Fairness’ and we were fooling ourselves that it ever was capable. There’s something dark, nasty and — okay, EVIL — at America’s core. It sits right beside everything that’s good.
It’s always been there, too.
But I also believe that ‘Fairness’ can overcome that, too. Because ‘Fairness’ — when practiced — produces real, palpable results: At the End of The Day, Everybody Wins.
And that, too, is how I think America is supposed to work…