Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Since Day 1 in the Land of the Wild West Streets…

In response to our MLK birthday post and thanks to Valerie, we got the following reaction from a fellow Danish expatriate (living stateside), a gentle soul with the heart of gold, the gracious manners, and the courteous speech befitting a suave European:
[The post] reminds me of when I first set foot upon our nation’s soil. Like [a French friend's] student, I arrived here full of prejudices and EUroweenie disinformation. Like her student, I fell hopelessly in love with the country once I was actually here so quickly that it quite literally pulled the rug out from under me.

Like her I was awed by the size of everything, impressed by the efficiency and neatness and completely overwhelmed by the friendliness, helpfulness and openness I was met with.

Since day 1, I’ve never met a stranger here.

Since day 1, I’ve never once felt unsafe while walking the “wild west streets” of the U.S. of A. that I was taught to expect.

Since day 1, I’ve yet to see the abjectly poor people dying in the streets because of our “lack of social concern” that I was taught that I’d see everywhere.

Since day 1, I’ve yet to notice the “racial tension”, “racism” and derogatory attitudes towards non-whites that I was taught was rampant. Instead I’ve seen blacks, whites, yellows and browns living side by side never once suggesting that anybody was defined by the color of his or her skin. I’ll readily admit that I felt like a prejudice about to be confirmed when I noticed the number of black maids and handymen in households out in the country, but I was soon proven wrong as it became clear that they weren’t so much employees as members of the family who just happened to work there as well. I witnessed how the man who was to become my father-in-law gave his black handyman his car when the old one broke down and he couldn’t afford to repair it. He has that car still and was neither expected to, nor has he ever paid a dime for it. He was just a family member down on his luck and daddy just so happened to have a car he didn’t need anyway.

I was taught that in the U.S. it was “every man to himself.” Instead I learned that no man is an island and that my countrymen will give you their shirt off their back if they think you need one. Not because they’re told to or expected to, but because it’s the right thing to do and, besides, everybody else would do the same for you.

I’ve learned that there IS such an animal as “the right thing to do” and that all you need to find out what it is is to listen to your heart. I’ve also learned that the help you offer a stranger out of the kindness of your heart is worth a million government handouts paid for with money taken from you at gunpoint, and I’ve learned that human beings don’t NEED a government to tell them the right thing to do. It’s something we’re all born with. All we have to do is to listen, watch and learn.

And most of all I learned that G-d DOES exist. He’s all around us and nowhere on Earth is His presence stronger than here in the country that I’m honored, happy and blessed to call “home.”

Overseas, we used to snicker when we heard the U.S. referred to as “G-d’s own country.”

Now that I’m here, I don’t laugh anymore.

I’m just eternally grateful that I’m finally home.

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