The Return of the Native
A British immigrant reluctantly decides to escape the tumult of Trump’s America
By Rebecca Mead
The New Yorker, August 20, 2018
I just finished reading Rebecca Mead’s excellent narration of her personal feelings since the election of Donald Trump and all that has brought about in America since the start of the 2016 campaign.
Being a naturalized American myself I have struggled with the same complex feelings over the past couple of years. I believed in and still believe in the promise of America – of justice, and opportunity and respect for all; an ever evolving multi ethnic society where all citizens can find their own place. Ms. Mead has made the decision to return back to her native England after three decades of living in America and specifically in New York City.
I remember casually saying to some friends before the election “if Donald Trump wins I will seriously consider leaving the US.” I have just completed 4 decades of living in the US. Like Ms. Mead I consider myself a citizen of the world, someone who has been comfortable living in many different countries and regions of the world. For an American Muslim like myself, the recent developments in American politics have been particularly shocking and even heart breaking. And all that has been brought forward about the latent fears, hatred and bigotry that Trump was able to recognize and further stoke, expose for me a side of American psyche that I had believed was long buried in the trash heap of the country’s history.
So what is one to do when your chosen promised-land exposes a face uglier than you could have imagined? One you felt had been left behind long ago? Ms. Mead in her excellent telling of her own life and the choices she has made, helps us see how she made the heart wrenching decision of bidding farewell to the country she had adopted and grown to love.
I have personally wrestled with similar sentiments. I could pack up and leave – of course that would not be easy, but I could do it. I am not tied to any particular place – having retired 7 years ago after a long successful corporate career at an American company. However, this is the only real home my now grown, US born children have known. But I can see myself comfortably settling in many other places in the world. But what exactly would that accomplish?
USA as a country stands at a perilous point in its and world’s history.
As we can already see United States will continue to be a very strong influence on the world for the foreseeable future. It will be a force for good, as it has often been, or a destructive force, as it has also often been, depending upon the choices the people of the country make in selecting their leaders and in holding them to account for their actions.
As I weigh my own choices and importantly my sentiments at this point in time, I have decided I will stay my ground and be more actively involved in civic and political life and play a part in bringing about more responsible leadership in this country that still holds so much promise for its citizens and for the world. What can one person really do? Much more than one person who chooses to leave.
S. Qaisar Shareef
August 23, 2018