Monday, September 13, 2010

There is No Place Like Home

Hey all,

I thought a lot about America over the weekend. The anniversary of 9/11 brought back so many memories and made me realize even though I might get cranky about the government and what is happening, I truly love being from the USA. We have freedoms there a lot of people don't even contemplate. We get CNN over here, but it is an international version. They might mention what is happening in America but it's a side note here. They give a lot of time to Asia which is only right since this is where we are living.

But what you hear is very different. We hear news from Hong Kong, Japan, China, India and the islands of Southeast Asia. The laws are different...the rules are different, but more importantly, the belief system is different. Even though I may want to, I can't judge these countries by my own American standards.

For example in Singapore you can be killed for drug smuggling. No slap on the wrist here but death by hanging. First offense or career criminal it doesn't matter. You may die.

In China you can be put to death for corporate malfeasance. Which is a fancy term for if a corporation is found guilty of doing something wrong--in the case I saw, it was using bad ingredients in infant formula. Three CEO's were sentenced to death when children died after eating their tainted food. Food that was tainted because they were more worried about cost overruns than safety. Much more than the slap on the wrist they would have gotten in the states.

And you all have heard the news about how women are treated in Pakistan. A woman is accused of adultery and not only is she stoned, her husband gouges out her eyes, and cuts off her nose and ears. While he is eventually jailed for the crime (one of the first times a man is incarcerated for such a thing) many men in the country still believe he did nothing wrong. And the abhorrent treatment continues. Mainly because the women have no idea their lives could be any different.

It's one thing to go visit a country. You can deal with the odd laws and mostly ignore how you feel about the belief system. But when you live there, it's different. Not only do you have to abide by these laws, you don't have the most basic freedom of saying what you think about them. In many of these countries saying you dislike the government is an offense punishable by jail time. So, you learn to watch your tongue.

But again, this isn't America. So we can't judge how their country is run. Human rights isn't something that is black or white over here. Talk about a gray area.

So the adventure has a harsher side, one a lot of people don't think about when they sigh and say they'd love to live somewhere exotic. Living in Singapore gave us a taste of it, but Macau is even more different, barely westernized at all. For an American who takes freedoms for granted, it's a dash of cold reality straight in the face. One we now look at very differently.

I say this as a memorial for the people who died in an attack against our American freedoms. After living outside of the USA for the time I have, I truly believe what we have there is very special and worth fighting for. Even if you are jaded as I am and often wonder if it does any good, do your part. Vote for the people you think will do the best for our country. Vote against laws that may erode our basic freedoms. Help where and when you can and remember NO man is an island. We all need each other.

So, next time you see your neighbor, give them a smile and a wave. You never know if you might need them in some emergency. And say thank you to our brave men and women in uniform. Whether it is the military or those who protect us at home, they stand between us and the craziness of the world at large.

And never forget just what you have at home. Americans are very fortunate people. Maybe it's time we started to act like it.

Hugs to all and see you on Friday,
CJ England

4 comments:

stevie-carroll said...

I've been reading the 'Inspector Singh Investigates...' series, and his matter of fact attitude to the death penalty is what really reminds me that the stories are taking place somewhere outside my experience.

Much as I love travel, I can't see myself living anywhere outside Europe.

Phylis said...

We have such a unique and wonderful country and most of us do not understand that. The freedoms we have are priceless and not everywhere. Thanks for the insight CJ!

CJ England said...

Stevie,

It is a real eye-opener watching the news over here. You're right. It is so matter of fact and sometimes it's really hard to grasp.

CJ England said...

Phylis,

You are so right and it often takes losing them to make us see it.