Surest way to alienate yourself from others? Do a PhD. In a foreign country.

It’s true.  Yet another reason I have possibly screwed myself in the proverbial sense.  I’ve already been in Academia too long.  I’m coming up on 6 years of post grad study.  6!!  It will officially be 6.5 by the time I am actually finished.  I think attending grad school is probably something that would alienate a person from their peers regardless.  Compound that into the fact that I’m also outside of the USA and you have a recipe for super liberal.

You might be wondering what brings this up?

Ah, the gun debate once again.  I just can’t help myself (actually, I exercised a huge amount of restraint by not posting responses on a particularly goading facebook status today).  I suppose I should be happy that some sort of discussion is occurring at any level and that clearly there are two strong sides the the argument but still, I shudder a little bit when I see things like this:

ImageJ=1.45sI know I’ve had the gun debate on my blog before and I know that not anyone agrees with me.  And this is why I feel alienated.  There are a lot of people out there that feel they NEED to have guns to protect themselves.  There are many reasons why I believe this logic is faulty.  Please refer back here and here.

The fact that there are millions of guns on the street in the USA scares me.  But the fact that there are hundreds of millions of people that don’t want that to change scares me even more.

I also feel if the American populace was more educated, we would be a lot better off as a country and would not be having as many of these absolutely asinine (yes I agree with the original poster in that respect – it is an asinine debate – too bad I disagree with their logic) ‘debates’.

Part of me wanted to post “This is why I left the USA” or “Anyone who would prefer not to get shot please make your way to New Zealand or Australia or nearly anywhere in Europe ASAP.  Also these countries have free health-care.  Yeah it’s amazing.”.  You know the old adage – if you hate America so much, why don’t you just leave?  Yeah.  I did.  But not because I hate America (mostly it was to travel).  I love America.  I can’t help it – it’s my home and this patriotic stuff is ground into us from an early age.  I love it so much it hurts.  But sometimes you need to exercise tough love.  I want America to be better than this.  I want America to be full of logical, rational people who make informed decisions based on facts not crazy scaremongering tactics or bullying or flat-out lying by a lot of politicians, interested parties, lobbying groups, the NRA and just Republicans and FOX news in general. [Yes, I do watch the Daily Show]

I live in one of the safest, smallest and least-corrupt countries in the world.  Sure it’s full of terrible (and I mean really terrible) drivers but that’s a risk I’ll take.  I worry about my friends and family back in the USA.  I mean, certainly MN is a reasonably safe state.  But there is still a lot of violence in the USA in general.  And it’s only a matter of time before it hits close to home.  To think that a mass shooting couldn’t happen in MN is a naive perspective.

But again, a lot of this has to do with my “Ivory tower” mentality.  I’m surrounded by people who have more or less the same views that I do.  Sure there are discrepancies but for the most part a lot of my NZ/Dunedin/Otago peers and I are in agreement.  And even if we aren’t, a lot of healthy discourse takes place.  I know that NZ is full of people with varying opinions about many different subjects – the same as the USA.

Regardless, I realize that the longer I live here, the more alienated I will become from my home.  I never really “fit in” in my hometown.  I found my niche when I finally went to college.  But now, the longer I live outside the US, and especially if I decided to remain in Academia, I know my path will diverge even further from my MN peers.  Is this a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  I just have to come to accept that I am the one who is different, I am probably not going to be able to change anyone’s mind and that this is OK.  I am possibly in the minority in thinking that an educated, healthy (as in, free or affordable healthcare for all), gun-free, LGBT-marriage friendly, etc. etc. US would be a superior US.  *SIGH*  At least now you know why I consider myself an idealist.

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