Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th?

I have a rather complicated identity when it comes to nationality. I have dual citizenship: US and Canadian. I spent three of the first eight years of my life in two different foreign countries: Canada and Germany. I have never had any other passport than a US one, and I've had four passports.

As a child, I was constantly called un-American by my friends. Some of their reasons were completely trivial (I didn't like cheeseburgers when I was younger) and some were more substantial (I refused--and still do--to say the Pledge of Allegiance). From the ages of, oh, nine to eleven, I identified more with the Canadian side of me. It's easier to agree that no, you aren't really American than it is to fight back. Then we moved back to Germany, and I became an American again. If you normally live in America, and you have an American passport, you count as American to the Germans.

As I have grown older, I have become more and more ok with the idea of being an American. And rightly, I think, because I *am* an American. There are many ways of being an American, and everyone who has American citizenship is an American. Two years ago, a friend said, of my opinion on a certain political matter, "Oh, you're just saying that because you're Canadian." I told him in no uncertain terms that I was 100% an American citizen and had every bit as much right as he did to have political views that differed from his and my opinions deserved exactly as much respect as his did, and then I walked out. No one has ever said anything like that to me since. For a while, I was secure and happy in my American-ness.

But now, I'm feeling conflicted again. I am willing to be an American, I want to be an American, but I am a Catholic first. And it's looking more and more like America doesn't want Catholics to be Americans. I can't support killing children with drones, a government that seems set on destroying the family, and a disturbing lack of religious freedom and conscience clauses. If being an American and being a Catholic aren't compatible, or if they soon won't be, then what? (Certainly Canadian citizenship won't help me here!)

To this day, I have never regretted not saying the Pledge of Allegiance. But over the past few weeks, I have become even more thankful that something held me back from it as an eight year old. The trend is a disturbing one, and unless things change, this will not be an America I want to be pledged to.

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