Over the last 15 months, I have moved away from the United States and resided as an expat in Australia and Thailand. I’ve spent a lot of my time abroad watching and reading the news about my country from an outsider’s perspective, from a (somewhat) un-biased perspective not influenced by partisan networks. I’ve seen how absolutely ridiculous we look to the rest of the world, and have had to answer to my foreign friends’ questions. This time has taught me more about my home country than I ever could have learned by being stuck inside it. Above all else, I think the one thing that has struck a chord the most is how almost every single time I’ve had the opportunity to watch the news this year, there has been a reporting of a shooting somewhere in the vast country I call home.
A lot of the time, the shooting doesn’t even make the international news because, let’s be honest, it’s getting a bit repetitive now, don’t ya think? Since I’ve been an expat, there has been 370 mass shootings that have occurred throughout the US. Three. Hundred. And Seventy. It’s unfathomable. It’s disgusting. But mostly, it’s embarrassing.
One of which was at my beloved university of Florida State University, where my sister and many of my close friends still attend, in the library where I spent countless hours pretending to study. Another was at my sorority’s chapter house in California. Another shooting at a movie theatre. Another shooting at a church. It’s almost become as common as seeing engagements of my twenty-something friends on Facebook, and that’s terrifyingly sad.
My Australian friends and colleagues literally can not understand why we are still allowed to bear arms as a society. Since the 1996 Port Arthur shooting in Tasmania, Australia has enforced very strict gun laws, and has been very effective in doing so, with only a handful of shootings in the last 20 years. Now, I’m not going and saying we need to ban all guns, and frankly, I don’t want to get into that conversation, but at least Australia showed some swift action in the wake of a disaster.
The United States, as told by my hotel television from 10,000 miles away, is a torn, divided, anarchic, “blame each other” society. Four of our Marines were shot, and that’s all we heard about it. Minorities and the police force are battling on the streets. Unarmed teenagers are getting tased and shot.
How long are our friends and families going to be attacked in places that are supposed to be safe havens until we work together as a society to stop the problem? Whether it’s a stronger public mental healthcare system or stricter gun laws or both or neither, we need to stop pointing fingers at politicians and parties and start working together to keep each other safe – no matter what party, race or religion.
I’ve met so many people over the last 15 months that quite literally scratch their heads wondering what the hell is up with our country. And to be honest, I can’t even give them a solid explanation because I’m right there with them, scratching away.
I’m not sure what kind of United States I’ll be heading back into, if and when I ever decide to do so. I love my country through and through, and anyone that has debated me about certain aspects of the USA knows how feisty and defensive I can get. But I think there’s something to be said of an outside perspective, and I wish more Americans could take a step back from their narrow-minded political, religious or personal views that block any form of positive developments. If all Americans could see how the rest of the world looks at us, I think we would come to the same conclusion – that it’s time for a change. For now, Ill have to follow the tales of the international news segments – staring back at me from my hotel TV.