Identidad prismatica

Unexpected oration from a (Canadian) temporary expat

By A Ramirez
Published on LatinoLA: May 9, 2005

Identidad prismatica

It's been raining in the Roman capital. Ironically enough, it reminds me of Vancouver; the areas just outside DC are still wooded and the houses are more modest. Then again, the ubiquitous Imperial flags quickly remind me that I'm foreign, in a different land. I lose count of the monster malls along my drive, those which have become the true staple of American suburbia. The bounty of American industry seems endless, as is the insatiable appetite of its consumers. Everything is bigger here; bigger is better.

As I flee the urban satellites towards Georgetown, I drive past the Russian embassy, and wonder how many plots and conspiracies have taken place there. It is a rather small complex, surprisingly. If it wasn't for the green space around it, the building would be no larger than our very own embassy, which cautiously and patiently stands on Pennsylvania avenue, paying both tribute and vigil between the mighty Congress and the regal White House. Russia still stands, defiant. Canada does as well, in its own unique way.

At first, I was humbled by our invisibility. But after travelling here for over 7 years now, my Canadian identity burns permanently with pride. Alas in these volatile times, I have learnt to keep this pride quietly to myself. My American brethren are very sensitive to criticism these days, and it is not wise to vex them. I miss the days when the words "partner" and "neighbour" were common in the local vernacular.

Instead, the Pax Americana has brought about a militancy in many of its people that allowed its leaders to violently re-assert its unquestioned supremacy in the world. And yet for all its overwhelming power, for all its shock and awe, for all its undeniably ruinous foreign policies, the citizens of this land are a great people. They are not great because of their military might, but rather, their values and ideals. Its social fibre is strong, if not cohesive. Indeed, they have many shortcomings to match their achievements, but we do as well. There is a dichotomy in our national psyche which allows us to pretend humility as the smaller brother, and yet proclaim ethical and social superiority, almost vengefully, bitterly. We seem to readily and willfully forget that the Children of a Common Mother always marched to a different drum, and walked divergent paths. So similar; so different. This is a great country. Ours is as well.

It is raining in the Roman captial. It reminds me of home. What a beautiful and wonderful illusion. After all, at the end of every trip, I always get to come home. To my beautiful, wonderful home.

About A Ramirez:
Born in Canada, and raised in Mexico. At least partially. Undergraduate degree received from UBC, in Vancouver, Canada. A Canadian contractor to the Roman legions in Washington DC.

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