(AMIGOS: Peco perdao: Originalmente esses foi escrito para Uma Revista dos EUA e nao quiz tirar o sabor original por meio de uma traducao. Sei que a maioria de voces lerao o artigo e o Google-Tradutor dara uma ideia aos amigos que ainda estao aprendendo esse idioma. SdM)
INSANE PATRIOTISM – Or self-cannibalism?
An armed band of guerrillas, in a banana republic, came into to a small village. Their leader busted into the city hall as asked the question: “Hay Govierno?” (Is there Government?) Stuttering the poor clerk answered: “Si, Senor…” For a long time many machine guns open fire. After all were dead, the Guerrilla leader said: “Soy Contra!” (I’m against!)
I was born in Brazil. I came to America when I was twenty one. Thirty eight years later I became American by option.
There is a difference between being born in America and deciding to be an American. It is a matter of decision and not a geographical accident.
It seems that most of the young American-born and some old ones are taking their nationality for granted. I can’t accept their position but I can understand them.
They have no reference point to appreciate America. Without a comparison they acquire a juvenile and distorted image of the country. They expect America to be a mix of Pollyanna, Xanadu and Heavens. But I’ve been around the world to say: America is just a country, excelling in some areas, average in others and in some topics we are even mediocre - such as in general education.
The world is not perfect and America is located in this planet. But what differentiate us from many are our freedoms to live and express our ideas; we have a constitution that is respected and is, de facto, the guarantor of our rights. So, we have a reasonable amount of law and order – and lots of opportunity to grow intellectually and financially. But again, Xanadu we are not.
I think it is so important for American to appreciate their country, its strength and deficiencies, that I believe it should mandatory for all young Americans to leave the country and live in foreign countries for a year or so.
From these countries our youngsters could bring back new ideas, different ethics, concepts and even some new technologies.
They would experiment living with institutionalized racism, ethnical prejudice or a system of social casts, and the experience overseas could accentuate many things they take for granted here. From other places they could evaluate dictatorships, religious fanaticism, and intolerance - and maybe they would understand what is to live in fear, among tribal, or drug wars.
On the other hand, some would return unlighted from more educated and/or civilized countries, and they would question many things here, such our education, our heath care system and some values of ours that could well be improved.
But regardless of the visited country, the young would return noticing that the “Experiment America”, is a good one, but is still at the works - and could be improved.
No, no. I am not the stereotype of a flag-waver, “puppy-grateful” immigrant that rescued from abject misery by an American Organization, or the provincial, ever present American Missionary. I did not come to America catechized and running away from hunger, poverty or a miserable live.
I always studied in Private Schools and later I entered one oldest and well respected Engineering School of my country. I had my VW Beetle in the late sixties, we travelled and, shame on me, I never needed to work as a young man in my country of birth.
However, in the seventies, Brazil was under a military dictatorship and though my life could be reasonable “rosy” there, I didn’t want to live in a place without my freedoms.
So I came to America, to California.
Here I found my lost freedom of speech and I had my shares of protests at El Camino College and at Cal State - Long Beach. In the American Campus I felt safe to speak my mind off and even free to sometimes change my point of view, although being a foreigner.
I wrote - and I write - articles voicing my opinions, pointing what I deemed to be right or wrong. Often I am irritated with our leaders, I voiced my feelings, but never a goon knocked at my door at the middle of night trying to intimidate, to shut me up or detain me.
I was - and still am - against a militaristic, “gun-ho” or “gun boat” type of international policy, but I realize, in a pragmatic way, it is impossible to be a world leader without also being in a position of military strength. I am compassionate and I abhor the war and policies type “Manifest Destiny”; but being a realist I can understand the inevitability of Realpolitik.
The freedoms we enjoy in America stems from our constitution: Even though it is a man made document and not perfect, it is as close to perfection as men can create.
The Constitution is an almost inviolable document, updated once in a while by means of amendments. Are there flaws on it? Some: For instance, our forefathers considered “we the people” as the Anglo Caucasian. But now the interpretation is ample, reaching all the Americans.
Also, here and overseas I frequently hear from intellectuals some not so great deeds of Washington and Jefferson. Generally the critics perceived them as demy-gods; therefore they are troubled with their flaws. I just view our forefathers as decent people with an ample vision and a great desire to create a just society, with no melodramas attached. Therefore they are very well appreciated by me.
Some friends knowledgeable about the American Civil War criticize Lincoln’s mild attitude at the beginning of the conflict, accusing him of trying to compromise with pro-slavery States.
They judge him hard for they expected too much of him. I often need to remind friends that the man wasn’t a demy-god