Leaving On A Jet Plane


Paul and I are about to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in the most wonderful way imaginable. We are about to jet off to Europe for a three week vacation, the longest we have ever taken.

We’ll start in Germany, spending a week with very dear friends. There will be laughing, eating, drinking, music and a lot of catching up on each other’s lives after two years apart.

From there we head South into Italy, my home country, where we hope to connect with distant relatives and learn about my family’s pre-immigration past.

I am SO excited that I can’t even stand it!!!

But.

I’m wondering what I will say when we are asked about the current situation here in the US. I mean, I know that I’ll assure whoever it is I’m talking to that most of us did NOT vote for Trump and despise his policies.

But my bigger worry is how to explain the way Americans are behaving toward each other these days.

How do I explain that half of us think it’s absolutely fine to mock and berate the other half? What do I say about one side refusing to serve food or bake cakes for the other half?

Is there a reasonable way to explain the curses, the vulgarities, the insulting names that each side is using on the other?

Can “Well, they did it first!” be translated into German or Italian without sounding like the absolute lamest excuse given by any kindergartener ever?

What do I say?

I can imagine myself trying to explain. “Well, I know it sounds like we Americans absolutely hate each other, but……”

But, what?

Do we hate each other? Do we really want each other to be humiliated, to be denied hospitality, to be spat upon?

How far away are we from violence in the streets, as rival groups hurl both insults and stones at each other?

How did we get here?

What do I say?

“I don’t know what has happened to us,” I might begin. “I remember when we used to argue at dinner, but keep on passing the dessert plate.”  Maybe I’ll point to the obvious issues with corporate media, and how that has lead to opposing viewpoints replacing factual news.

“I remember when we used to turn on the evening news, knowing that we’d get the same information no matter which channel we picked, but watching our favorite news reporters.”

Sigh.

How do I explain the sheer ugliness and vitriol and rage that has engulfed us all over here in the “land of the free”?

I don’t know.

I share that rage, and in some cases that ugliness and vitriol. There have been a boatload of moments in the past two years when I’ve wanted to strangle the life out of someone in the news.

How do I explain that to people who have lived through the violence and horrors of fascism and World War? What do I say? How do I describe my fervent desire to oppose what I see as immoral, without losing my own moral center?

I don’t know.

I truly do not know.

But before our plane lands on distant shores, I promise that I will have learned to say, “I love my fellow citizens” in at least two languages.

Maybe we should all be memorizing that phrase in English.

europe_4 pays

 

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19 thoughts on “Leaving On A Jet Plane

  1. So happy for your upcoming trip….happy anniversary. On the other hand, I know what you are saying. It always surprises me when someone says thank you when I hold the door for them…shouldnt this be a given? Children today amaze me with their attitudes. I often wonder what the world will be when my grandchildren are my age. You cant take on the weight of the world, but only hope…pray…that things will change for the better. Meanwhile, go and have fun, enjoy your adventure…sounds great….bring back some great memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Remember Hitler? Remember Mussolini? I’m sure every country has been ripped apart a number of times. They will react to you as you. I bet the question doesn’t even come up. Have a wonderful time and leave this brouhaha behind.

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    • Oh, how I’d love to leave it behind! We spent time in Berlin in the August before our election. Those ever polite, welcoming, lovely German’s had a remarkable way of gracefully bringing up the Hitler years and asking “Did you people LEARN anything from that?!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I know. We were in Germany for a couple of weeks in Aug of 2016 and people there were calmer than we were over the Trump phenomenon. Still…how to explain the way that we Americans are tearing at each other’s throats. I am just so saddened by what is going on here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy anniversary! And I think you’ll be fine. I think (hope) most folks abroad are aware that even the citizenry within the country is for the most part discontent — it happens all the time, unfortunately.

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  4. I like the mantra of “I love my fellow citizens.” I think it’s hard to find that balance of speaking up for what we believe in without attacking those who don’t agree with us, especially when we see so many attacks going on around us. And hear so many people justifying their hatred by saying “they deserve it.” Whenever I hear that, I think, “Isn’t that what all abusers say? The men who beat their wives? The people who murder and rape? Is that really the kind of person I want to be?” That helps me adjust my attitude quickly.
    Enjoy your trip, and if asked about what’s going on in the US (you may not be at all, as most people are concerned with their own country’s problems), simply be honest and civil. My guess is that kind of response will come rather naturally to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the tip, Ann! I love the way that you phrase your mental head slap. I am struggling to express to my lefty family and friends how troubled I am by “our” use of the same hateful tactics that are being used on others. Hate is hate. Hate is bad. We can’t become what we despise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! We have got to stop using President Trump as an example of how to act. Because his example is unacceptable. But when we copy his behavior, only with different targets, then all we’re really saying is we’re perfectly okay with his actions and words. We just disagree with who he’s going after. And that’s not how I want to live!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I know you are a fan of the Birds of Chicago. The last time I saw them JT introduced the song “American Flowers” by saying something like that they realized as they traveled through the United States that most people whatever their beliefs are good people and that it is important to focus on that. I think that is what I would want to communicate.

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    • Oh, my, that song is one of my foundational supports! I heard JT say that same thing last summer when we saw them in Boston. I cried through the whole song, ,and told him afterwards, “You need to record this! We need it!” Of course, given that he’s the actual musical professional, it was already in the works. That song and “Superlover” get me through a LOT.

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  6. 40 years of marriage; wow – congratulations – so worth jetting off to celebrate! So do just that & for a very short while; leave all those questions behind and enjoy yourself (you have both earned the right to)! I assure you that those questions (& even more) would still be there when you are back; and you would be suprised to find that similar questions are being asked (and remain unanswered) about the current situations in Europe… so your friends and family won’t expect tgst you’d have answers to the questions either…

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  7. Have a wonderful time and leave the stress behind. Don’t let the trump admin. ruin your trip. ❤️ If I were you, I might be inclined to stay in Europe! 😁 Happy 40th! –Kat

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    • Thanks so much, Kat! Been very interesting to chat about the Trumpster so far. Heard a ton of interesting Hitler facts on our Munich tour and couldn’t escape the obvious similarities. Every American we have met so far, of all races, from a bunch of states, agree with us. We all laugh about pretending to be Canadian!

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