An expat’s reaction to the Boston bombing……..

angel moonMaking the decision to relocate to the island of Cozumel had been an easy one for this American expat.  Not only was I looking for a simpler, and more affordable, way of life, I was also seeking solace from decades of misinformation.  You see,  my father had been a well known political consultant throughout the sixties, seventies and most of the eighties and I, unfortunately, and due solely to proximity, had been made privy to some of that “misinformation,” which never gave me comfort.  As a result I’d “moved across the aisle,” which certainly gave my father no comfort either.  Then, once I entered the world of academia, and became politically active both on campus and off,  I finally realized that I’d become disillusioned with the  process, disenchanted with the direction, and, finally, had to recognize that I had become disenfranchised altogether.  Couple this awareness with the horrific events of 9/11 and the resultant deployment of my eldest son and I simply gave up.  In fact, I knew, at the very moment of hearing my son was being deployed to Afghanistan, that I would be leaving my country of origin.  A cowardly act?  Perhaps, and that can be a debate for another time.  But, relocation doesn’t take away the pain I now feel watching, yet again, the horrors of terrorism unfold.  I may be applying for permanent residency in the country of Mexico, but I am still in tears over the loss of life in Boston, and the target that America has become.

Since I’m recovering from dengue, one of the perils of living in a tropical climate, I’ve had much time for television.  That has allowed me to follow the events in Boston in the same manner as I, and the rest of the world, did in September, 2001.  That there were fewer deaths, less dramatic footage, and fewer conspiracy theories mattered little.  It was,  yet again, a time of disbelief and horror that Americans could be so easily targeted, and so thoroughly despised, and often by those so young.   All I kept hearing in my head was “I don’t understand.”   It became my mantra as I watched journalists who have now become almost blase reporting about yet another attack.  I heard it while watching the same blast over and over while the experts speculated.  I suspect it is the same sentiment that many are expressing while we try to, yet again, come to terms with just how little lives are valued, how much we, as a nation, are scorned, and the ever present question of “how did it all come to this?”

In the midst of the days that followed I’d received a handful of emails asking if I’d write about this from my perspective as an expat.  The first one I’d responded to in an embarrassingly cavalier manner.   I’d simply written that “since I am ill, and no longer live in the states,  it doesn’t seem appropriate for me to write about it.”   After all, I told myself while penning that reply, I write a blog about, mostly, simple, “feel good” events that transpire on a tropical island.   And, I further assured myself, my days of political activism are behind me now.  But, then I decided I needed validation and began to watch for comments on a local FB page.  It seemed that others might well have agreed with my consensus.   However, since I can’t, and won’t, speak for others,  I had to personally reach the conclusion that there is indeed a cushion of comfort provided by both distance and assimilation.  And, I have to ask myself, wasn’t that what I was looking for when I relocated?  The ability to separate myself from the current political direction in America and the resultant current events?

The simple answer is “yes.”  But, the true answer is that no matter where I live I will continue to grieve over the unnecessary loss of life and I will continue to have the unfailing hope that the seemingly downward spiral of events can be reversed.  How?  Well, I certainly don’t have the answer and, I suspect, nor do the many who are way smarter and more politically savvy than I could ever be.  It’s become an overly complicated world.   But, that doesn’t mean that we should give up hope.  However, even in the face of  helplessness there has to be something, no matter how trivial, that I can do, yes?

So, once again I turn to a few simplistic rules that my father taught me.    They won’t determine the course of history, and they won’t change the flow of the world, but they will help me to keep my own house in order.  And that is, realistically speaking, the best that most of us can expect to accomplish in the face of tragedy.    The list is short:

1. follow the Golden Rule

2. leave wherever you are better than it was when you first arrivedsleeping angel

3. be kind to animals,  avoid those who aren’t

4. stay informed

(and my personal favorite)

5. when in doubt ask someone smarter than you


Now, this might seem to be an overly simplistic reaction to yet another tragedy.  And, you’d be right to think just that.  In fact, I’d thought of just trashing this piece, but didn’t for the sole reason that this is just one reaction, my reaction.  Others?  Well, some use grand words, others use grand gestures.   Me?  Well, I don’t have either of those to offer so I just turn back to what I can do to try and be a part of a ongoing solution and not to contribute to the ongoing problem. What has happened in Boston is painful and difficult to process, for all of us.  And, I may be naive, but I sincerely believe that if we all followed a simple path with simple rules, life would be much less complex and isn’t that what we all hope to obtain?  A life easily understood?

So, with that said, here’s to simple rules to live by during the best, and the worst, of times.  To all those in Boston, you are in my prayers.  Salud!

9 thoughts on “An expat’s reaction to the Boston bombing……..

  1. Your dad was a wise man. #1 -3 define what I think of as my religion. It has no name, no church, no text, no organized following.

    Thanks for writing.

  2. I enjoyed your thoughts on how you try to separate yourself best as you can from what you cannot change. I love this …” They won’t determine the course of history, and they won’t change the flow of the world, but they will help me to keep my own house in order.”

    #2 is one thing we definitely strive to teach our children. Will have to remember to tell our children not to trust those who are not kind to animals, we just stress to be kind to animals.

    Lastly, what do you consider the Golden Rule?

    1. thanks for reading, and, to me, the Golden Rule is simply treat others as you wish to be treated, said a variety of ways depending on the religious, or philosophical telling……………and, the world seems to be so crazy that separating myself is the only way I can hold on to what sanity I have left…….again, thanks

  3. I’m must admit it’s hard to see what is happening in the states. Since I have made the move and became an Expat myself it’s changed my world perspective. It even feels odd to call myself an expat, I never thought I’d leave the country I grew up in and live in a country so vastly different. But then again I never thought in my wildest dreams that the moral decay that is taking place would happen in my life time. I watched for over 25 years what happens to the fabric of a man who worked for and dedicated his life to his government job. My father worked for the D.O.E, I won’t go into the details but he would bring home movies for us kids to watch that the rest of America wouldn’t see for another 25 years. It was being exposed to this and forming my own opinions and values that I finally had to come to grips that staying was no longer an option. So with this said, don’t ever think the choice you made had anything to do with running away, unless removing oneself from the reckless chaos is a crime I’d say you made the wiser choice. Personally my growth as a person has been so much greater now that I can see why America’s paradigm doesn’t fit the rest of the world. When any society pushes their paradigm as the only true and correct one, those who don’t see it this way will push back. So sadly those who never had anything to do with enforcing this are now become the victims. It will take those who are on the outside to share where the truth really lies. It’s not a fun job but someones got to do it.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I find it interesting that we both had become aware of information that may not have been available to the general public. As may have happened with you, I also believe that my “insider” knowledge helped to formulate who I would become, and continues to cause me to question explanations, especially after major political events and tragedies such as what just happened in Boston. And, I agree that life as an expat does help alter perspectives, but, as a writer, it is also a double-edged sword. I may, in some respects, feel safer, but I find I am also unable to fully express myself due to that sense of safety. Still, being removed from the midst may allow for clearer vision in the long run? Guess we’ll see (I won’t be so naive as to hope events like these won’t continue to happen). Thanks for reading!

  4. Reblogged this on Life in Russia and commented:
    Here’s a gentleman who shares views similar to mine, I hope you enjoy his thoughts as much as I did. It’s always nice to know that your not alone in your thinking, we may be on opposites sides of the pond, he gets to sit in the shade of a Palm tree, I get to walk on a river of frozen ice. How different lives can be but when it comes to expressing our voices it is like a clarion call to those who will hear.

  5. Mexcelia, I read your writings and even commented once. You seem to be confused as what could have caused the attack in Boston. I know this is not a PC statement but you should read the quran and the hadiths, which is the history of mohammed. All of the information you need to know is there.

    A lot of folks will say that a lot of hate can be found in the bible and that is true, but generally only in the old testament. Most folks in the west are people of the new testament. For the record I was raised catholic although I am not religious at all. Buy a quran & read it. I did in Sep 2001 and it was enlightening. Jim

    1. Jim, If you look over what I wrote I believe you’ll discover that I did not speculate about “what caused the attack in Boston.” I did not know then, when I wrote this, nor do I know now what will be considered the reasons for such an event. I do, however, agree that reading religious texts outside of our own faith can be an enlightening experience. Thanks for reading. Celia

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