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April 15, 2008


I'm also enjoying these first days of real spring, though sometimes having to almost will myself to ignore what's happening elsewhere, in other people's spring sunshine.

It's especially hard to shut down that train of thought when my own country bears such a heavy responsibility for so much of the suffering in the world, whether through commission or omission.

Oddly, just a couple of nights ago, Steve and I were wondering if you two feel more American or more Canadian with regard to issues like Iraq. And now you've answered that question, with your usual thoughtfulness.

I was appalled when I watched Bush take office for his first term. I believed Al Gore had actually won, and I threatened to move to Canada or to the UK. I honestly thought he'd be a one termer like his father. As it turns out, he is nothing like his father.

The second term has been even worse. I am sick in my soul from the atrocities committed by this administration. When we've gone abroad, first to England, then to France, I made a concerted effort to NOT seem American. It is horrible to be ashamed of one's government and its actions.

I have wondered if I'd feel less American if we had really moved. From your post tonight, I suppose I probably would not.

It's interesting - we've made friends with a number of Canadian Americans, many of whom have lived here for decades. And they're all still somewhat emotionally American - in that they still follow and care about the country, wishing it the best, wanting it to be what it can and should be, feeling proud of the good things and appalled by the bad ones. Maybe that's natural. I don't know - I never immigrated before. But especially at my age, I very much doubt that I'll ever stop feeling American or identifying with America and its deeds, no matter how comfortable I become with living in Canada or being part of Canadian society. But some of that is just my personality too; others do shed their former identity much more readily, and maybe never felt as enmeshed in social and political responsibility as I always have.

It's interesting for me, as a Canadian, to read about your feelings living in Canada. It's natural that you will not stop feeling American when you've lived there a great part of your life for I think all immigrants retain some measure of love and loyalty to their native countries, even if they don't like living there anymore. This sadness is why you left, but are fortunate that you can still go back for quick visits.

I'm interested to note that you wrote 'I've never immigrated before', not 'I've never emigrated before', which seems the right way to look at it.

I've lived abroad for 20 years now, but I still read the NYT on the net every day, and agonize over what is going on in America, and in the world, in part because of American policies. I don't know if I want to end my life in my adopted country, but America seems less and less like a home that I would like to return to. I hope that America changes course -- but the fact that it has been on this course for eight years now is not encouraging. And if it were to change, would it just pretend none of this ever happened? That was certainly the case in the past -- after Allende, after x or y dictator, or coup, or war ... The worst part is that for many people, even to say these things makes one a traitor.

I like it when you write about politics -- you did, when I first started reading you. You often clarify things that I have somewhere, half-formed, in a back corner of my mind. I hope you will continue to do it once in a while, at least.

This morning in the barn, NPR gave me a litany of bombings, shootings, crashes, deaths of all sorts with greater or lesser connections to my country and its choices. I had sudden tears in my eyes and also a sudden urge to impale myself on the horns of the grumpy steer. So much suffering, and so much of it backed by my tax dollars.

Really, we're hoping that Vermont will secede.

Kat, yeah, of all the states Vermont is the closest in attitude and culture to Quebec - it may be silly, but the little secessionist movement there indicates real dissatisfaction with the federal path, and that's always hopeful.

Marja-Leena and Jean, you both make such good points, and I thank you for being empathetic.

Nancy, hearing how you still agonize about and follow American policy is really helpful and, frankly, comforting, to me. I think I worry about becoming complacent, and I don't want to: I want to remain politically engaged in the real issues of our time. Thanks too for encouraging me to keep writing about politics, since it is really a major interest of mine and I just avoid it because of the snarkiness and meanness - as well as the repetitiveness - of so much political debate on the internet, as well as wanting to make a space here that talks about the fullness and beauty of life too.

I'm glad you wrote about it too, and hope you didn't get any snarkiness on account of it.

I suppose there are some parallels for us coming here from the UK; I think perhaps being somewhere with a different language will always make more of a gulf, even when one becomes reasonably competent in it. I still identify with Britain, though I can often feel glad to be out of it and paying our taxes here, and we go back very little. I suppose this can lead to complacency, having the best, (or indeed the worst), of both worlds - there are certainly many things about France I wouldn't want to be associated with. I think it's easier to live in a rather disconnected bubble in a country which will never really be one's own, for us anyway. There's also a danger that we become too negative about the country we came from, because almost all we hear about it is the reported news, which gives a distorted view...

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.