I fly out of Denver International Airport today. The airport itself, an engineering and artistic marvel, is always a treat: the tent-like terminal pays tribute the indigenous Indians who called the Great Plains home and is a mirror image of the Rocky Mountains to the west.
No doubt thinking that I should have my head examined, a friend recently asked me why I was going to London in February. I took her point. London is not the height of the tourist season: typically, London is cold, wet and sometimes snowy in February. And without forethought, I answered, “I’m going home.” My answer surprised me as much as it did her. Home? I am a United States Citizen. I own property here. I pay taxes here. My family is here.
I try to sort it out. If I am a U.S. citizen, how can I feel so at-home in England? Mentally, I am American; emotionally, I am English.
As I mull the enigma, I have come to believe that my attraction to England, and particularly to London, is a matter of remove. Both countries have their contentious politics, but in England, I am one step removed. I can go down to Speakers’ Corner on Sunday and listen to the rants and raves, but I am buffered by my country of origin. Their rants are their rants, not mine.
In contrast, when I am home, closer to national and local politics, the rants and raves are in my face. Sometimes they are personal. In England, the state of the National Health Service in interesting, but it does not affect me personally. In contrast, issues surrounding health care reform in the U.S. gets my dander up.
At home in Westcliffe, population 600 or political issues pit neighbor against neighbor, and you are called to consider the definition of the word, “neighbor.”
The right to brandish a gun as you march in the Fourth of July parade is still an issue. Those who insist on their right to carry guns say that they are defending their Second Amendment Rights. The opposition feels that the Fourth of July Parade is a celebratory, family day and should not be politicized. Strong feelings on both sides pitch neighbor against neighbor.
More recently, the town is at-odds by the Custer County Commissioners awarding the “Paper of Record” to The Sentinel, a year-young paper whose masthead claims that they are “The Voice of Conservative Colorado.” How an avowedly conservative paper can begin to represent a county-wide, diverse population of Republicans, Conservatives, Democrats, Independents, Greens, Socialists, and Tea Party members is beyond me. The commissioners showed poor judgment.
How the commissioners could choose a partisan paper over the inclusive Wet Mountain Tribune with three times the circulation is beyond me. The decision makes me want to turn my back and run away. I should be attending the public meetings designed to make peace between the warring factions, but I don’t do shouting, hissing, or booing. If we are a participatory democracy, should I not participate? It is a conundrum. I am torn between good citizenship and emotional good health.
I do participate… but at a remove. Letters to the Editor of The Wet Mountain Tribune are the best I can do. At home in London, buffered by the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll think about my next letter.