Here Thar Be Monsters!

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The Great Escape

As the old saw goes, "'Merica, love it er leave it!"

I live in Indonesia.  That should give a fair answer.

I chose to live in Indonesia.  I considered my move carefully for the better part of 20 years.  I knew by the mid-80s, after having lived and traveled abroad for two years, that things were seriously wrong back in good ole 'Merica.

Being being born a Texan and raised by an historian and politician, I had a bit more perspective than most.  I knew what the Constitution said and that it was not open for interpretation.  My mother the English teacher gave me the ability to read plain, clear language, such as that used to write the founding document of the US feral gummint.  The part of me that was a seventh generation Texan just wanted to be left the hell alone to make a little money and raise a family.

Alas, that is not the direction the US has taken.  In fact, instead of leaving folks the hell alone, they are all up in everyone's business and the boundaries are shrinking by the moment.  It is to the point that the feral gummint feels perfectly comfortable telling the people what they can eat, drink and smoke, what activities can take place in their homes, and of course leaving the home subjects the individual to endless prying.  Hell, just to get and keep a job, they can legally require you to surrender bodily fluids and violate a number of rights established as far back as the Magna Charta.

The worst part?  The people just roll over and take it, then go so far as to put social pressure on others to do the same thinking, "If I gave up my right to privacy, then everyone else should have to, as well."  This mentality is akin to the lemming plummeting to his death looking back and saying, "Those bastards better jump too!"

It's a sad thing to see one's home country taken over by fascists.  Those of us who read history books saw the warning signs years ago.  Some of us tried to change things, while others bugged out early.  I gave up in 2008, and left for more favorable climes.

Since coming to Indonesia, I have had contact with police twice and both times were rather innocuous.  At home, twice a day was more the norm, and each encounter carried a 50-50 chance of going to jail for no particular reason other than out-of-control cops waving their night-sticks around.

In parts of Asia, you can still walk out on the tarmac, board a plane and pay the ticket from your seat, just like the States back in the 60s and early 70s.  The airport doesn't have metal detectors and little more than a handful of uniformed officials running around.  I feel safer there than with Homeland Security climbing up my posterior with a flashlight.

Yet Mericans don't seem to realize that they have lost more to their own 'authorities' than any 'terrorist' could ever have taken from them.  What kind of insanity is this?

There was no point in trying to change it.  The dead, vacuous stares in the eyes of the average Merican as they tell you about safety and security is enough to chase any reasoning person as far out of the borders as one can get.  I went as far as I could go without actually beginning the journey back again.

In all honesty, it's more comfortable to live in a neo-socialist country than to watch my native country devolve into Huxley-an nightmare around me.  At least here, I know what the rules are and I can avoid the pitfalls.  In Merica, there were some 50,000 laws governing my every waking moment, which meant that I could not step out of bed in the morning without becoming a criminal and subject to arbitrary arrest on the whim of some 'authority'.  At least Indonesians have the good sense to ignore innane and ridiculous laws...both the citizenry and the enforcers.

I used to get asked all the time by the folks back home why I left Merica.  Why would I choose to get out of such a haven of peace, love and freedom?  They don't ask anymore.  More often, I get asked to offer advice on how to get out.  "What should I do?"  "Where should I go?"  "What's it like?"  "Is it difficult?"

Honestly, how and where to go is as individual and the person making the choice to leave.

Is it difficult?  Absolutely.

It's not easy leaving lifelong friends and family.  It's not easy learning new languages and cultures.  It's not easy setting up house in a foreign environment.  It's not easy making all-new friends.  It's not easy breaking into the local business networks.

Locals tend to exclude you because you are a foreigner.  The ex-pats tend to exclude you because they were here first and want to protect their turf.  You have no idea who to trust and who is out to 'get ya'.  You have no idea where to go to buy basic necessities and you have to learn the numbers and names for things so you can find them and buy them.  Even then, you are likely to pay much higher prices because the locals mark you as ignorant and gullible, and they are right.

So why do it?  Because the risks and rewards are far greater than what you left behind.  Because it's a challenge that makes you feel more alive than you have in years.  Because living on the edge is what life is really about.  We are here to learn, to experience and to grow.  Moving to a foreign country is about as far into all three of those things as one can get.

Ex-patriotism is not for everyone.  There are plenty of home-bodies that abhor change and challenges.  They will go along with just about anything to get along.  Ex-patriotism turns your entire life on its head.  The most basic assumptions you make about your daily routine suddenly become the greatest challenges.  A great many people can't handle it.  One sees two types of ex-pats come here: those who run screaming for the exit after about two weeks, and the ones who stick it out and end up staying for years.  A few even become citizens after a while.

Ex-patriotism rewards those who stick it out.  You learn a completely different view of the world.  You pick up habits you thought were so foreign when you arrived.  You develop a taste for foods you couldn't even find at the market back home, if you even knew to look for them.  The unusual and outrageous become daily events.  You gain knowledge, experience and insight that would have been impossible to get even watching the NatGeo channel 24/7.

Best of all, you learn to rely on yourself and to trust that you are capable of meeting broad new challenges and adapting to new environments.  Ex-patriotism is a crash course in Self.  When it comes to self-exploration, there is no finer teacher than to remove yourself from all comfort zones and confront your fears and insecurities.

In all, ex-patriotism is a complex issue.  It is as much a running from as a running to.  The people who are willing to try it are as much escaping bad situations at home, as they are exploring new realms, both inside and outside.

At some point, most people think about what it would be like to live in another country.  Few actually try it.  But as the situation devolves in Merica, one finds more and more folks willing to take the leap.  It is not an easy choice to make and usually requires a strong push from the local situation to force one to consider it, much less actually do it.  But there are rewards equal to the risks involved, not the least of which is escaping intolerable socio-political environments at home.

Real freedom is not the choice between yellow mustard and Dijon.  It is the ability to change your situation in life and explore the inner and outer worlds.  Real freedom comes with a lot of risks, not the least of which the possibility of failure and losing it all.  The question is, how much are you willing to give up to keep it all?  Safety and security are elusive things and unobtainable without sacrificing most of what we use to define being human.

Ex-patriotism is a very real option for those finally tired of tyranny.  No place is perfect, but it is surprising how free much of the world is compared to places such as Merica.  Imagine going through a full day without once appearing on a surveillance camera.  And that's only the beginning.

It's something to consider the next time you feel panic at seeing a cop car behind you.