Making 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
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!