Could I Survive the ‘Quietest Place on Earth’?
I’ve spent the past week writing an important book about the United States. I’ve done so not because I want to write another book, or a book of mine will be bestsellers, or because of an ulterior motive. I do so because being an American is something that defines who I am, and I’m passionate about it. I don’t mind what anyone says — I don’t want to live in a country where people feel alienated. I’ve also come to realize that the America I know and admire and love is a thing with a lot of complicated contradictions and paradoxes.
I think the most important thing about my country, though, isn’t that it’s a democracy — it’s that in the United States, we have the ability to build ourselves up and out from underneath the weight of our history and our past to become the great country we are — because we’re the most independent people on earth. We don’t look to other countries for wisdom. We can be what we want, when we want, without having to wait for someone else to tell us. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an American, and I think it’s the best thing one can think of as an expatriate in a foreign country. You come here because there are so many things about us that you like and so many things that you don’t like, and you learn to love them all. You learn not to make them your enemies, not to think of them as the enemy. They’re simply people who are alive and breathing and walking this planet. They’re people like you, who were born in a small town in Texas or Pennsylvania or Virginia, or a small village in Mexico, like me.
I want you to feel free to stay as long as you want, to travel as much as you want. I want you to be a part of things, and to become a part of the country you love.
This is especially true for a writer like me. In a world full of books about countries that exist in places