Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Old America no Longer Exists

Bruce Bawer, author of "While Europe Slept" wrote an essay on Pajamas Media about being away from America for 10 years, and about how the America he knew no longer exists. This lead to some rather pointed comments about "Bawer's choice" as it were.

Mr. Bawer has made it clear in most of his writings that his move to Europe was primarily due to his sexual preference -- Norway recognizes his relationship while the US does not. Hence, he can live in Norway, but his partner cannot live in the United States. Personally, if I were gay, I would prefer New York to Norway, but so be it. He has never stuck me as a “citizen of the world” type.

And I can understand wanting to experience something foreign. If all goes as planned, I will be moving to Europe next summer for an extended work assignment. That will not make me less American.

As for lamenting the passing of an old America, that is a normal aspect of getting older. I used to laugh at my parents complaining about the old America being gone. They grew up very poor, in a Catholic immigrant family at a time when Catholics were viewed in this country with suspicion and the country of their parents was actually at war with the United States. Their first memories were of the Great Depression and World War II. I could never understand how they missed that old America.

Yet, entering my forties, I too find myself lamenting the passing of what I think of as America. It is natural. Things change and you reach a point when change is not easy anymore. I think in Mr. Bawer’s case, living abroad, it is just more pointed a feeling, given that he feels the shock of the unfamiliar whenever he returns home.

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