Since I left my native land more than forty years ago, many others have also joined the expatriate list scattered over many continents and countries. Because of the vastness of time and geography and perhaps also because we were all struggling to make our living and place in this world; our communications were scant, few and far between.
However, I was under the impression that most of us left because of the harshness of life under the socialist government and its system of inefficiencies and corruption, which made a country which once was voted as “most likely to succeed after independence from British colonial rule,” into a position of vying to be in “the poorest nation on earth” ranking by the UN.
As we have all experienced, the internet was born without much help from Al Gore, Skype made video chats become free and international phone calls inexpensive while Face Book made daily cyber encounters abundantly available. Through those channels I made contacts with many of my fellow expatriates at little cost: I also had abundant time in comparison to my working days.
Suddenly the world came to my computer and through its agency I began to regularly talk or write to these old friends, older in age compared to then and definitely more mature in their thoughts and philosophy of life. In the beginning we experienced great joy and exhilaration of having to see and chat and write but as the novelty wore off and as we began to run out of niceties to exchange we trod upon the so-called taboo area of religion and politics.
I discovered that in spite of our commonality of country and culture we have diverged apart in many significant ways. That was when I realized how American I have become in my ways and thought process, as well as the appreciation of what America has to offer to everybody. My respect for the tenets of the Constitution of America and my appreciation is not shared at all by my erstwhile compatriots especially by those who don’t live in America but in many countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The most striking thing that made us different was that a great many of them still cling to socialist ideas and philosophies even as they had emigrated because of the socialism at home which produced the deficiencies in freedom of speech, assembly, expression, religion, petition and acquisition of material comforts. When I discuss the American Constitution whenever the occasion arises I was ridiculed and even mocked for my enjoyment of the rights and liberty afforded by the document; even as some were enjoying the same.
Some have expressed these because I detected envy but I believe that most are because of something akin to survivors’ guilt, expressing a peculiar nostalgia of the old country mixed with a deep desire to go back and reform the system which they were unable to, when they were living there.
Most likely I shall one day find the answer but as of today I will still have to ask “why?”