Part. 2: U.S.A: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am having this rant….

Also, it would be good to read this first – 8 Reasons why America is good.   Until I moved here, my experience  had been pretty negative in the US – really rubbish things happened to me on the first 4 times that I came here. The 5th time was to Dallas, and Texas, and I finally saw that I may be able to live here. And God, with a wry smile, gave me my love – my husband – who is an American, so America, you are part of me too now and I am part of you.

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend. 


Dallas – please, SLOW DOWN.

You are a city of hidden beauty and depths – it took me 2 years to even start to find it. You are a warm and welcoming people. But you need to slow down, stop buying things you don’t need, stop building mcmansions you don’t need and getting into crazy debt.

Please stop drinking and driving. It’s not cool and your killing yourselves. I don’t think we were not meant to live in our cars, we are at our best when we live close to our lives and interact with the people close by. Our church has a plan to live deep and love local, which is exactly what I intend to do.

Public transport is not a dirty word, and is not a sign of poverty. Driving is a privilege not a right. I believe if you had a decent driving test (I was told exactly how to drive the car, whilst going round one block. It took 5 mins and then I was told I can drive on your roads), you had more roundabouts (which seems to keep the  traffic moving better, and is less expensive than lights), and you had manual cars (they are more fun to drive, more economical, teaches you more about cars, and you need two hands, ie its harder to text and drive), you would be happier and safer. I’ve always had a problem with your ‘turn right on a red light’ rule, but I didn’t really know why it bothered me. But now do. Red means stop, and green means go. A year ago, when my then 2 year old wonders why  I am going, even though I had already told him that red means stop, and I have to say to him “I am going because, well, we’re in America and  you can turn right on a red light if its safe”, then you know you have made things more complicated that it needs to me. Now, again, this is just my opinion, but it seems to me, this rule was born out of impatience. And if there were more roundabouts, you wouldn’t have this problem. People who know more about this can, of course, tell me why this is the way it is. I’d like to know.

You don’t need to look polished and great and perfect to be liked. You’re likable. Just relax ok? And Dallas Morning News, whatever your agenda is to bring Parkland down, stop wanting it to fail. The people there are working harder than you ever will and are actually trying to help people. I am proud that my daughter was born there. For all its faults, I do stand for parkland.

The reason I see these things is because I think you need someone else, an outsider, to lovingly but honestly tell you what is wrong. I find it hard to look at the UK and objectively see what is wrong. Please, look, listen and tell us. I do know we need to stop complaining, see the good things we have and although we are good at holding on to tradition and history, we should not let it define us today. But I love my place of birth, it is extraordinarily beautiful, wild, peaceful, sarcastic, silly, small, eccentric and full of wonderful people. There is nothing that a cup of tea and a piece of cake can’t fix. My adopted home, Scotland, and its people, are maybe the greatest  on earth. And I can love my homeland and my country but not be a nationalist. Brits, wasn’t the Olympics awesome? Remember? We can be like that all the time. My honest hope, is that you keep the United Kingdom united, and Great Britain great. You’re all bloody brilliant and I miss you heaps.

America – You are a magnificent, vast, complex, wonderful, smart, funny, innovative, loud, sometimes dumb country. But please, get your house in order before you go telling other peoples and countries what to do. You talk the loudest about spreading democracy and peace but you are warmongers. Other countries see your hypocrisy and they literally hate you for it. Believe me, coming from a nation that used to ‘own’ much more of this world than you do now, while you (sometimes) have good intentions, you will need to apologise in the end. Your political system seems so corrupt, you openly say that you are paying money to get things done with your advocacy and lobby groups in Washington. You say you are in debt, but you spend your wealth on your partisan bickering politics, and on your warmongering. As I am slowly learning, we need to live within our means.

I am neither democrat nor republican. I do not fit that easily in one of these categories. I think most Americans don’t either.

When your folks in Washington stop shouting and being rude and disrespectful to each other, I have actually got to hear both of your perspectives. And because I talked to someone who has a different view-point to me, I got to admit, I learnt something new! Now, this next thing is a really new thought for me. But, I don’t think I do agree with ‘Big Government’ either. (Though, don’t get me started on big business or those *ankers on Wall Street).

I think it is important, the majority of the time, to live and be governed locally. The people who live locally are without a doubt the people who know the needs of that community best, taking into account its particular population density, makeup, history, geography, trade, etc. I personally think most people first and foremost find it easier to identify with a smaller community. I think we traditionally gathered ourselves in villages for a reason.  For me, it was

  • Low Fell, a suburb of…
  • Gateshead. Which, because it was so close, was easier to say I’m from
  • Newcastle (yes, where the beer is from). Together we are the north-east of England, and we are ‘Geordies’ but that is quite a loose term. I personally have more in common with the
  • North including Scotland and Northern Ireland. But I’m still
  • English, and I’m also
  • British, but as I’ve been fortunate to travel a few places, I have found I have a lot in common with people on the other side of the
  • World.  And as my brilliant big brother used to write, in our books:
  • The Solar System
  • The Galaxy
  • The Universe

And I’m proud of being part of each one of those places (the universe part does blow my mind a bit). But, I’m best made to live and be governed in the small two-mile community that I now live in, in wonderful Dallas, Texas. But, there are things for which I’m grateful that there is a bigger authority over that smaller place. It makes it easier for a larger body to do the currency, the security (don’t go overboard though), transportation, research, maybe education, maybe health care and I few other things. Economies of scale and all that. There’s a lot more to say on that of course, anything on KERA and PBS is interesting and informative and has helped me to understand your politics. And of course, the wonderful and eccentric, but perhaps not always right, Fox News.

But you know what, I probably find it easier to listen to, and identify with the democrats. Because, and no-one likes to hear this, the republicans come across as such haters. I think some of you are the closest thing to Pharisees that we have today – you claim you are doing great things in the name of God, but you put laws in place that no one can keep because it’s impossible. You say you follow the teachings of Christ, but he wanted us to be humble, and to listen to others who had a different viewpoint, and we are told that the only true religion is to ‘look after the orphans and the widows’, not judge them, or make it harder by taking away what little they have.

When we  first came to this country just over  2 years ago, my husband – who is a citizen – and me – with a legal visa (if that’s important to you) – we had very little. Thanks to medicaid, which I could see people judging me as I said the word,  I was able to get free and low-cost healthcare for all the pregnancy care I needed. (It’s not the same in the UK, where most healthcare is free at the point of access and no, we are not communists or socialists). I gave birth to my baby daughter in a public hospital, my husband was given an emergency back surgery which saved him from absolute agony, and I was able to get help with postnatal depression.

I understand that many of you have lost trust in the government because you have seen your hard-earned money squandered away. And trust needs to be earned back. I’m ok paying taxes in your country (and paying a higher amount in my own as it happens) because I believe that I need to and it is the only way to get your fantastic country working again. In the UK as well, we do have some people who rely solely on the welfare state, and they have become lazy and selfish and expect that the world owes them something. In the UK, we (mostly) all pay a license fee for the BBC. They are by no means perfect, but I love the BBC. I think it is the world’s most unbiased, informative, thoughtful, interesting, entertaining media outlet there is, and I would gladly pay a license fee over here, because it is worth it. And although they will mess up with ‘my’money, I want to add my resources to help them to get better and keep doing what they’re doing whilst they are accountable to me.

I  agree with helping the poor – as I was – to help them get back on their feet, but I also believe the bible says if you don’t work you’ll starve. I am more than happy to work. I actually love working. I really do. But isn’t ‘the American Dream’ not about what wealth I can accumulate, but that we can have a more level playing field than our origins, race, ethnicity, gender,or  sexual orientation have traditionally given us credit for, and, with grace, and our ability, we work hard to make ourselves and our neighbours’ lives better? Not that we can have a new ipad or the 10th pair of new shoes. But, if someone comes to this country with very little, you give them help to get started, and once they are back on their feet, they are ready to work, and want to contribute fully to society, like we did and do. It’s going to take time, because we’ve all got in a lot of debt, but if we work hard we will fix it. No, I am not an idealist, this is reality as well and I’m living proof. So, please, I would love to effectively and quietly, talk and listen with those of you that have a different opinion to me. More importantly, I’d love to see those whom you have freely elected to govern you, to do that. You folks need to spend some time in my toddler’s MDO classroom and see how they resolve conflict. Or maybe you need to get yourselves a joint and have a pow wow and a good laugh whilst discussing some really serious and important issues.

Spidey knew that with great powers comes great responsibility. America, you have great power, and the world looks to you. Now use it responsibly.

Maybe you should get out your cars, and stop using so much of everything. Never mind what China or India does. They have their own issues. Education is important but not as important as wisdom. Teach people how to learn and they’re set for life. You do need to protect the vulnerable and poor, provide them with good health care and they won’t be such a burden to you. You make people work so hard, with so little rest. You overburden your pregnant women, and wonder why they are sick, and why they produce sick babies and why your children are growing up without morals and stability but you don’t help parents to look after them. Your insurance systems and health systems are a sham, with most of your health professionals worn out, especially in the public field. When I pay taxes, I will owe it back for the public services I used.

Your taxes are way too complicated. Tax season  seems to be just  about what you can get back in a rebate, rather than paying your fair share for what you used, if you want libraries and police and help when the hurricane comes. Just pay the right amount of tax in the first place? Another thing that you seemed to have complicated so that someone can make money. And if you happen to have been blessed with more than others, through your hard work or through inheritance, be thankful, and  humble, and maybe stop storing up your wealth in your storehouses, as you never know how long you’ve got. There are people in an apartment complex down the road who are hungry and hurting. Even if it was partly the choices they made to get them there, we are all sinners saved by grace.

You do not seem to respect those in authority and you do not seem to respect your elders, or sometimes, those that have fought in your name.  We are no different at home, and I think it’s kinda shameful. You elected a president to serve you now do your duty and respect him, as the bible says you should.

As I have finally started to do, you need to stop eating EVERYTHING. I know it is a sign of your wealth. But your diet and lifestyle is literally killing you. Eat simply, when you need to and look after the land and animals that are providing it. I know, I’m in Texas. Land of guns and meat and all that. That’s ok, as long as you use it all respectfully and responsibly.

And by the way, enough with the war guns on the streets and in the schools. The rest of the world looked on appalled and disgusted and you still talk about your right to bear arms. I believe your forefathers would be turning in their graves that you have twisted their words so that you can sell your guns while you let vulnerable people kill your children. It disgusts me to my core. Last week I had to walk away as my son’s school went into lock-down. If I had stayed, I think it would have alarmed the children even more. So, I walked away, knowing they were being taken care of, that the police were the best people to deal with it, and that it would be fine. But my heart was reminded, and cried for, those children and teachers in Newtown, and those parents whose grief lingers on until they are united with them again. Your children did not die in vain. And don’t get me started on the children that we  are killing with our drones and those displaced in Syria while we twiddle our thumbs. I don’t have the answer to that one, or Israel, or North Korea, or any of that, I just don’t know, but I do know that the innocent have suffered enough at the mercy of politics.

Now, my son’s school has an (armed) off duty police presence, to ‘reassure’ us parents. Quite frankly, I am neither reassured nor happy, but the school is great, and well, I live in Texas. But I do not think it is right, or ‘of God’, to live in fear, nor teach my children to do so. We need to address the root cause not the symptoms.

We are all responsible for the worst actions in our society. It is a painful question to ask, but if I had been in Nazi Germany in 1939, would I really have stood up for justice?  Most of the German people were not and are not evil, but they did not stop evil amongst themselves.

America, you have the ability to be a magnificent great, great nation, a true melting pot of peoples, the way it should be. I thought for a long time that I would never want to be a citizen of this country, but you have made me change my mind. (Being duel is ok right?)