America’s more beautiful without Michelle Bachmann in sight

“But if the world could remain within a frame, like a painting on a shelf, then I think we’d see the beauty and we’d stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges.” –Conor Oberst

I’ve never been the flag-waving type.  Maybe it’s because I believe you can quietly respect your country or maybe it’s because I think prairie dogs have more intelligence than Sarah Palin and waving a flag is literally the least you can do.  I’ve been patriotic, but not in an unconditional way.  I vote for, not only what I believe in, but what I believe is best for everyone.  I think that’s patriotic.  I also think being a good citizen and being part of your community is patriotic.

For the next two years I’ll be a part of another community.  I will do my best to be a good part of it, but it’s not my home community.  Even though I’m on the other side of the world, I find myself much more proud to be an American.

Why?

Democracy is pretty cool without FOX News
The mindset of the Thais is very different from Americans.  That subject is an entirely different blog, but I’ll just say that it’s different, but neither is better than the other.  I sometimes think, “Why don’t Thai people conduct their lives more like Americans?”  Then, ten minutes later I’m thinking, “Why don’t Americans change their ways to be more like Thais?”  This is why I’m here – to assist with cross-cultural education of Thais and Americans.

I’m still getting a feel for the Thai government system, but it’s not my government system.  I do miss democracy and the beauty of it.  It’s a wonderful thing now that I have a chance to step away from it and see it from afar without the ugliness.  I don’t see the crooked politicians, petty bickering or Michelle Bachmann.

Representin’
As a Peace Corps volunteer, a third of my job is to be a positive representative of the United States of America; I better love my country.  Luckily, I can say I do with no hesitation.

During the swearing-in ceremony, volunteers were shown a video with clips from various returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCV) as well as some words from the founder of Peace Corps, President John F. Kennedy.  This year is Peace Corps 50th anniversary and I felt a bit emotional as I raised my right hand and swore to defend the constitution of the United States of America for such a historical and well-respected organization.  It felt good.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iZ0Pp-5AcA

I love the king of Thailand
The king of Thailand is a great man.  (Note: it is against the law to disrespect the king).

He’s helped me appreciate the states even more.  At the same time, I look at the states and appreciate Thailand even more.  It’s amazing what can get done in this country when half the country isn’t arguing with the other half about whose opinion is correct.  Then I realize how great it is to have a voice.

The few times I’ve seen President Obama on TV, I always point excitingly, as if to say, I know that guy!  Sometimes people will ask me if I like the president.  That’s when I realize I have a choice.  I can like the president if I want or not.  There’s no law telling me how to speak.

"I know that guy!"

I’m also more Catholic … strangely
I spent the better part of my twenties fighting the fact that I’m Catholic.  Then a good friend of mine told me something that made sense – there’s a big difference between the church and the faith.  In the same sense that I’m more patriotic being away from the states, I also find myself more Catholic being surrounded by Buddhists.  Of course, that’s the beauty of Buddhism, they’re cool with me being Catholic and Buddhist.

I find myself comparing my Catholic roots to Buddhism.  I’m happy to report I don’t pick sides: I nearly fell asleep at a Buddhist wedding recently, as well.

“They like this music,” Jeff told himself and took a deep breath
My assignment here is to help assist community members with issues they have.  It’s not to promote my ideas.  I’m cool with this, but there are times I want to shove America down their throats.

When I see kids playing soccer, I want to kick the ball into the rice field and start teaching the essence of a good double play or how to pull off a suicide squeeze.

Okay, well maybe I've implemented a little of American society. However, there's not much I can do without a bat and gloves.

When I see someone throw their potato chip bag out the window of a moving car, I want to call the police with their license plate number.

When I’m at a party and they’re blaring high-pitched Thai music I want to – oh, this is where my desire rises the most – plug in my iPod and make sure everyone in the village can hear “Born To Run” while they cringe and I writhe in patriotism.

But I hold back.  I am jai yen yen (cool heart).  I enjoy the good and the bad of Thailand, just like I did and do of America.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss my country.  It’s like going on a much-needed vacation.  You spend weeks waiting for the departure date so you can get away from work and home.  You have a blast on vacation, but when you get home, you appreciate it more.

I’m nowhere near ready to go home, but I can already tell I’ll appreciate it more when I get there.

“My father said, ‘Son, we’re lucky in this town / It’s a beautiful place to be born / It just wraps its arms around you / Nobody crowds you / Nobody goes it alone / That flag flying over the courthouse means certain things are set in stone / Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.'” – Bruce Springsteen

“Someday girl, I don’t know when we’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun / But ’til then, tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” – Springsteen

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4 thoughts on “America’s more beautiful without Michelle Bachmann in sight

  1. What a great entry. I reached a point where I started feeling that way too. I never before felt such a sense of patriotism as I did when I was in Thailand. Coming back home was all the more sweeter, that’s for sure.

    • Jodie, I’m sorry, but I have to ask … who are you? I’m very happy you’re reading my blog, but I’m not sure who you are. Not that everyone who reads my blog needs to know me, but I’m curious. I’m going to feel really bad if I do know you and I forgot.

      -Jeff

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