One of the annoying things about spending time over her is constantly meeting people who believe salvation can be found in America either in getting there or in getting something from there. I love America, it is far from perfect, but it is freaking awesome. I believe that America is the greatest country in the world, not because I'm a redneck gun toting conservative that falls asleep listening to the national anthem (that only happened once), but because I've been a bunch of other places and I've payed attention to history. America is faaarrrr from perfect and often falls well short of its own ideals, sometimes with tragic consequences. But within the history of nations, superpowers, and rebellious colonies, America is exceptional. There is imbalance between the classes, but there is also fluidity of movement between them. There are racial tensions, but never before has a nation successfully incorporated so many different cultures and people-groups into one body, and in the process been willing to acknowledge its failures.
If I think America is the greatest, why does the belief that going to America will fix everything bother me so much? Because it isn't true and it takes people's hopes and attention away from things that matter.
I am yet to meet an African that doesn't want to go to America. I'm sure they exist, I Just haven't met them. Getting a visa/green card is the equivalent of winning the lottery. The poor in America have more resources, opportunities, and freedom than most of the middle class and semi-affluent in most African countries. The challenge is, most of them will never get there, not as immigrants and not as visitors. But that doesn't stop people from hoping and dreaming; dreaming about a place where everything is good and where their lives will be easy and full of prosperity. But that place doesn't exist, at least not the same as in their dreams.
I was thinking about this stuff and I realized I do the same thing. I don't have a country or a place to look to and hope about and dream of, thinking "If only". But I do have the dream of 'the next' the hope of the 'maybe then'. The truth is, someday I may find 'My America' here on earth, but if I do, it won't look like anything that I could imagine. It will have its own challenges, stresses, and complications. There may be the peace that comes from knowing it is home and there is no reason to keep on searching and looking forward to the next, but it won't be perfect, it won't be the undefined paradise that is in my head.
It's because of this that I find myself in the constant struggle to find the balance between taking advantage of the opportunities and experiences that are available today and not getting lost in the daydreams of the grass on the other side, and maintaining the hope and the desire for those things that are yet to be, the place (figurative or literal) that I'm yet to get to. I don't want to be the guy that places all his hopes and energy in winning the lottery, getting his U.S. Visa, getting the perfect job, etc. I want to be the guy who keeps on moving in the "right" direction and takes care of whats in front of him. The problem is, this is a lot harder than dreaming about a fictional future.