I have lived out of the country and it was a very eye-opening experience. I think that, regardless of how you feel about the direction popular culture and politics is taking, you will be surprised how hard it is to live outside your own country. I am talking about everything from daily living (yes, those washing machines DO take forever and try doing your laundry that way when you only have 4 hours of water each day), economically, politically, socially, etc.
I have met many people who idealize European countries for their egalitarian social policies, but many people don't realize that many of those countries are also very racist and bigoted against people who are not like their "approved" people.
Last year a new mom moved into town and joined our mom's group. She immediately latched on to me because, it seemed, I'm Muslim and I wear hijab so she figured I was also probably really anti-American. Well, I'm not
and she proceeded to spend an hour ranting on about how bad she thinks our country is and how she wants to leave-- but she has never been outside the country before herself. With all due respect to those of you who might sympathize with somebody like that, I wanted to smack this woman! I was extremely offended both by her rhetoric as well as the fact that she stereotyped me as a person who would be receptive to her "America sucks and can never be redeemed and Europe is utopia" nonsense.
I managed to stay civil and I told her this: People are people no matter where you go. The powerful and rich always will try (and succeed in times and places) to take over the means of powerful to use it for their own ends. But if we care about the place where we are from, it is our duty not to abandon it but to stay there and try to change it as long as our life and basic well-being are not threatened. Yes, there are people who immigrate from country to country, and that's okay on a small scale. (My dh is an immigrant and will not likely return to his native country, although like all immigrants he does sometimes dream it might be possible.) But if people in large groups get the idea that "this country is going to hell so I'll just leave", well then what will become of the country when all the people (especially in democracy... hello, do you vote?) who are concerned about its direction just leave it to the people who don't care? Especially with the US being so powerful, it is our responsibility to stay here and make as much noise as we can, and try to gain as much influence as possible to change things. If we are upset at the way our foreign policy treats other people, then we need to do something about it. Leaving the country to the people who think the direction of our politics and society is just fine will only result in more of it. And look how many people around the world suffer when that is the case!
This is exactly what happens in countries under totalitarian rule, like Iraq, and what causes the people there to lose their ability to function as a coherent society. Why is Iraq such a mess? Because people lost their sense of responsibility to their country and greater society. I see this in other countries in the region too. When the government is corrupt and rules by dividing and frightening people, people no longer have a sense of civic duty, honesty, decency, anymore. It becomes every man for himself. Lying and cheating and stealing in order to get by become normal and ingrained into peoples' psyches. They're not bad
people at all, but they have been socialized to behave that way and I think it takes generations to re-inculcate a sense of civic duty in people. Are we going to allow ourselves to lose that (we already have started losing it to a degree) simply because some shady dudes have taken over the government?
I see bumper stickers that say "proud to be an American". I would change that to be "humbled to be a American". We live a lot better than most of the world does, and that has come by the exploitation and harming of a lot of other people in the world. We need to fix that. I believe that with sustainable environmental practices, we can allow the rest of the world to live as comfortably as we do (and I'm talking about basics here, because I also disapprove of consumerism) without the high cost and the exploitation. It is only by God's will that we happened to be born (or allowed to immigrate) here and enjoy this kind of life. With the way the environment is going (i.e., global warming) we may also not be able to live this way forever. So I am humbled-- humbled by the great gift it has been to be an American, humbled by the fact that our forefathers did some not-so-nice things to get us to where we are, and moreso humbled by the responsibility it all carries. You can only be proud of something you have accomplished, not by something you are by virtue of birth or, for that matter, something that is simply handed to you by another country. You can go abroad and brag "I now live in a neutral country that doesn't bomb anyone" but what did YOU do to accomplish that?
We are such a large country with many different cultures all mashed together. I know pop culture wants us to believe we are all the same, but we are not. I learned that first-hand when I moved from the NE to the SW of the country. Everything is different! So as others said, the whole of our country is not the vacuous suburbia consumerism pit that the media and pop culture might try to tell you it is.
So go abroad to visit. It will make you appreciate what you have here. Then come back.
Stepping off my