Things need to change

I know that probably everyone in the blogniverse is blogging about the horrific shooting that took place in Connecticut last week. So I’m going to add my two cents.

This is one of those days where I actually wish I wasn’t an American. I wish that I could stay in NZ forever. NZ feels safe. NZ (relatively speaking) is safe. It’s like a magical isolated paradise filled with prehistoric forests, fat, funny little birds, beautiful sparkling teal blue oceans, majestic ancient volcanoes, and hobbits. NZ isn’t perfect. But I reckon it’s about as close to paradise as you can get.

The USA, on the other hand, is sick. Things that seem so blatantly obvious to the rest of the world and most US expats, will probably, sadly, never change. It makes me despair a little bit. No, it makes me despair a lot. The USA is supposed to be the land of dreams, freedom and opportunity. The land of wealth. It is all of these things. The USA is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But it is also sick. And this makes me sad. The problems of such a huge country seem so overwhelming that I fear there will never be change. And so, so many Americans will always live in fear. Fear of getting sick and having no health insurance. Fear of losing their jobs and not being able to find another one. Fear of losing their home because they can’t pay the mortgage. Fear of getting shot doing every day ordinary things like going to school, going to work, or going shopping. The USA is a beautiful place – but somewhere over the years we’ve developed an ugly culture.

As an ex-pat, I feel horrifically guilty. My supervisor said today that I shouldn’t feel guilty or responsible. But mostly I feel guilty for finding fault in my home country. And I must admit, if my family and friends weren’t all there – I don’t know what the USA would really hold for me anymore. Because often, I don’t feel very American. I know I am (I am far too good of a consumer to know that I’m anything but). But the other day I realize that I have spent most of my adult life in New Zealand. Nearly all of my 20s. Which is an important time which shapes a person’s life habits and values. Not to disregard childhood by any means, or the fact that I have spent most of my life living in MN. But I have to be honest – I have integrated into NZ culture quite a lot. And it has integrated into me. Many of the values that a lot of Americans hold – I don’t share. I know I’m not alone in these beliefs. But sometimes, it makes me feel quite lonely, almost as though being an American is a religion of sorts, and I am a heretic.

I am from one of the greatest countries in the world. We are the champions of democracy, where the people hold the power, and that many rights are sacred. But right now, I feel powerless. For the changes that I think need to happen to make America a safer, healthier, happier place – to cure the sickness of our culture (I mean, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Need I say more) – first we need to change people’s minds. A lot of people’s minds. A lot of American’s minds. And that can only happen if we discuss and talk about these problems.

It is easy to blame the media (there is that Morgan Freeman statement floating around facebook that is, by the way, a hoax).  “Oh, the sensationalism!”  we all say.  I believe this is shifting the blame.  It’s easy to blame ‘the media’ – because the media is a “mindless entity” of sorts. It’s almost like blaming nothing at all.

It is much harder to say “We, as Americans, as an entire country, need to take responsibility.  We, as Americans, need to apologize to the family of those slain, and to all those children who attended the school, who will be grieving and haunted and traumatized for possibly many years to come.  We need to apologize to them because we have let them down in not treating the killer’s mental health problems, and in allowing guns to be so readily accessible.”

It is also easy to say “Look at all these problems!  Someone really ought to do something about them!”  No one wants to do the hard, dirty work.  Politicians, in particular, don’t really want to upset the people with money (for fear of the money disappearing).  Corruption, greed.  More of the USA’s underlying sickness. It’s like a spreading cancer. And we all know how difficult it is to treat and eliminate cancer.

But honestly, I think we can start by taking away the guns (It worked for Australia as recently as 1996!).  This is not taking away people’s freedom. I think this is giving people more freedom. Freedom to live without fear! Isn’t that true freedom? It’s simple – guns being more difficult to access = fewer incidents of gun crime.  People won’t turn in their guns?  Criminals will still have access to guns?  Yes.  And Yes.  But you give people an incentive to turn in their guns (aka $$$).  And eventually, fewer overall guns will mean fewer guns for criminals too.  Yes, people can still hunt deer and ducks and whatever else they want.  But not people.  And you don’t use hand-guns or semi-automatics to hunt deer and ducks.  Will there still be violent crimes with knives or swords or whatever else? Yes. But taking away the guns makes it much much more difficult. [As an aside – not even the police in NZ carry guns.  All they are armed with are nightstick and tasers (which were very controversial when they were introduced).]

People with mental health issues need help, not prison.  We have a huge medical industry, some of the best hospitals and doctors in the world!  How is it that we are not addressing people’s mental well being in addition to their physical well being?  Mental illness is a sickness that needs to be treated just like any other disease.

Well, that is enough ranting about heavy subject matter from an acknowledged liberal ex-pat.  It’s all stuff you’ve probably heard before anyways.

I know this is trivial in comparison to the heavy topic up above, but to keep with the current theme, here is today’s outfit:

top: Witchery, skirt: Modcloth, necklace: grabone, boots: Dr. Martens

top: Witchery, skirt: Modcloth, necklace: grabone, boots: Dr. Martens

I’m finally wearing the Mushroom for another skirt from Modcloth (brand is tulle).  I bought this ages ago and am only wearing it now because I had to send it back – twice! – because of the fit!  You can tell I really wanted this skirt because the fit is really terrible.  I started with a M because it said it ran small.  Well the M was huge so I sent it back and ordered a S instead (I’m typically about a S for most items).  It was still huge.  I finally ended up with the XS (I’m smart enough to know I’m not really an XS) – which is still too big for me in the waist.  There is, however, no room whatsoever to give in the hips.  So this skirt is essentially ridiculously up-side-down triangle shaped.  Regardless, I will persevere and wear it because it has mushrooms on it!!

Also, I admit the boots are not a perfect match.  Some brogues would definitely be better but as of yet  I don’t own any so, like any poor student, I just have to work with what I have. A bit like the USA – we just have to work with what we have.


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