October 31, 2008

Traveling as a Canadian/American abroad

Both Julie and I wanted to write this post for a long time, and now that it's the U.S. Presidential elections, I can't think of a better opportunity to share my thoughts about traveling as a Canadian/American.

I should probably elaborate on the whole Canadian/American thing. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and then moved to New York in the spring of 2002. Although I was raised in Canada, my parents are American, I am a citizen of both countries, and all my relatives live in the U.S.

I've always felt proud to be Canadian. I think many Canadians of my generation like to associate themselves with the fact that they aren't American. We're like the younger sibling to our stronger, older brother, the U.S. We need to have pride, and speak up a just a little bit louder. I think this is why Canadians like to travel with obscenely large flags on their backpacks. Most Canadians doing it will tell you that they don't want to be associated with Americans. First off, that says something about the state of the America's foreign policy. I think it is true that Canadians get treated better traveling abroad than Americans. Canada is seen as a peace-keeping nation, level-headed in world affairs and environmentally, fiscally and socially responsible. As opposed to the world view that America is kind of a bully these days. So I understand why Canadians travel with huge flags, and go out of their way to wear Maple Leafs hats (I'm guilty of this), and Roots clothing, which gives a subtle signal to another Canadian that you are part of the clan. While I understand the logic behind these tricks, I am not a fan of the obnoxiously large Canadian flags that scream, hey, I'm not an American. Because, being an American is not bad at all, and I've kind of become a little defensive these days. But it does show that the U.S. needs a public relations makeover, and the Presidential elections are the perfect opportunity.

I am proud to be a quasi-American. I probably wouldn't have felt that way before moving to New York. Manhattan showed me that every nationality under the sun could live together in harmony. Mayor Bloomberg restored faith in me that politicians could be honest and care about social issues. With considerable opposition, he banned smoking and trans fats in restaurants, all for betterment of society. So whenever we traveled and met South Americans, Australians, etc, I was proud to say that I grew up in Canada, but now call the U.S. my home. Even though the Republicans have ruined the economy, shot the deficit through the roof, and have made politics into a religious battle, I have so much faith that the U.S. can correct itself and be a leading example for the world.

Most Americans don't travel abroad, and I think this is a major problem. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, and I've met more people abroad from New Zealand than from America, and New Zealand is tiny island nation of just of over four million people. If Americans only traveled and met people, they would show them that we're not all rednecks with guns and SUV's.

Until I went traveling, I didn't really understand how U.S. politics really affected the rest of the world. I assumed that countries followed the debates because every year it was turned into a huge media spectacle that you couldn't escape. Kind of like it was for me when CNN had 24/7 coverage of the OJ Simpson trial or the Jon Benet Ramsey murder, which I tried so hard to get away from. But I soon realized that the whole world is affected by the U.S. Presidential elections, and that is the reason every American should vote. Look at the state of the world's economy.

I've never really been preachy in my past posts, and I'm not telling you who to vote for, just that you go out and vote. If we are going to fix the country's and the world's economies, end war, and hopefully clean up America's image abroad, it needs to start on November 4th.

Oh yeah, Happy Halloween to all...broo ha ha ha ha ha.

If you need more incentive to do the right thing, check out this link to all the last minute craziness trying to stop registered voters from legitimately casting their ballots.


Julie said...

Well said, Jared. The world is definitely watching this election. They don't get to vote--but we do, so don't waste the opportunity.

Ivana said...

Happy halloween too,hehehe.anyway, care 2 xchange link with my North Sulawesi blog? I've added ur link in my blog.Thx

KillerBunny XO said...

yo jared! just read that there is some political problems in thailand. be careful holmes!