America, Hell Yeah.

November 4, 2013 — 6 Comments
America, Hell Yeah with stylish shoes

Stylin’ USA shoes in Hong Kong

As we gazed across the bay to the beautifully lit city of Hong Kong, I couldn’t help but notice the young man’s shoes as he walked in front of us. They weren’t the typical high-price Faragamo’s that are becoming normal in the ultra-affluent Hong Kong, instead they were simple canvas shoes decorated on the top with the US flag.

It wasn’t the first time either. Throughout Southeast Asia and continuing through Asia, Europe, and Africa the US flag continued to be a favorite adornment of local outfits. As if we even needed the reminder of the home we left eight months ago, these simple occurrences made us even more homesick. Every time we heard a country, hip hop, or rap song from an artist from the US, it had the same impact.

America, Hell Yeah with shirts

A couple walking in China with their USA shirts

I think I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve said “we hit the birth jackpot” by being born in the US.

What would’ve happened if we were born in the high mountains of Laos where the only mode of transportation beyond our small wooden shack was the mighty Mekong river that hasn’t seen much change in the area in the previous millenniums. Or what if I was born in the slums of India where the best of luck means you were born into a family who didn’t cripple you as that would make you a better beggar. Or the unforgiving country of Cambodia that had 1/3rd of its population wiped out forty years ago when the evil dictator Pol Pot decided to change the make up of the country.

What if I was born into a society where my gender played the most important role in deciding the outcome of my life – whether I deserved the respect of the culture or even the respect of the opposite sex. What if I was a woman in India who feared the machismo culture not because it put her chances of success at risk, but more importantly put her chances of safety at risk.

We have seriously hit the birth jackpot.

We don’t have to worry about whether our next meal will be the one that’s gives us deadly food poisoning or what will happen to us if we decide to drink the unsafe tap water – that’s if we’re lucky enough to have running water and a next meal.

We all have access to a pretty good level of public education that helps us break out of the caste systems most of the world is stuck in because parents can’t provide a better lives for their kids since they can’t get them educated.

Simple injuries and sicknesses don’t put our lives at risk like they would in some other countries where access to healthcare is minimal. We don’t have to fear the next mosquito bite will lead to us coming down with Malaria or Dengue Fever.

However, it’s not all rosy.

We also experienced many things in other countries that we are lacking in the US – from the incredible traditions of Bali where the family structure is put ahead of everything else, to the villages in Nepal that have communal work days where everyone pitches in to clean up the small rock walking paths that acts as the main entrance and exits to their tiny villages. In Israel we experienced Shabbat (Sabath) where an entire night and day each week are dedicated to rest and even more importantly – family.

In the end, I guess you love a country like you love your family. You know they’re not perfect, but you love them even more because of it. There may be other countries or families that do things better, but you love the one you have – and I think we have a lot in the US.

America, Hell Yeah in Myanmar

A USA shirt spotted in Myanmar

America, Hell Yeah in China

A sign of freshness you can trust in China!

America, Hell Yeah in Hong Kong

Anyone recognize the creeper next to her?

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The USA flag adds style to any shop window…

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6 responses to America, Hell Yeah.

  1. There was a saying when I was in Korea and the Philipines so many years ago. They hated Americans but loved America. Our clothes and music were high ticket items. But the people were anethema.

  2. As you know we have had numerous foreign exchange students in our home. ALL of them want memorabilia wit the american flag on it. ranging from teeshirts, bed linens, kitchen items… You name it and they bought it. It was there way of bragging about being here for they time they were. We thought it odd, but in time cane to understand what it meant. Other cultures will complain about us but come running to us when they need help. Funny how that happens. 🙂

  3. I think you nailed it. Depending on where you were born your life can be dramatically different. We love the country of our birth, faults and all. But we also have wishes for how things could be different. I suspect that’s why our flag is worn and displayed as it is in other less fortunate countries. I think it still represents wishes for a better life.

  4. Dan — your post made be proud to be an American and so very glad that I was blessed to be born in this country. Both my parents were immigrants and came to the U.S. at a young age. They grew up in poor immigrant families but my father wanted a better life for his family so moved us to the suburbs of NY. While they weren’t educated beyond the 8th grade, all three of their children are college graduates and living the good life. I bless every day that I live in this country — a land built by immigrants.

  5. I feel the exact same way about being born in Canada – we’re your friendly, fortunate neighbour up above! And no, we don’t live in igloos. LOL

  6. This makes for an excellent visual essay. It’s interesting though when I think of my travels… the last thing I wanted to bring back from Greece or Turkey was a flag. I’m more of a t-shirt with a stupid saying kind of girl 🙂

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