Dear Americans, Stop threatening to move to Canada.

Dear Americans,

Please stop threatening to move to Canada (or wherever) as an inflammatory reaction to the current presidential political circus. This happens every time and will continue to keep on until we can calm the hell down and conduct ourselves like civilized citizens of the world. Apparently, that might be asking too much. Do you realize it’s really ignorant, disrespectful and downright illogical to think you can ‘just move’ to another country because you don’t like the current federal political leadership?

There are over 50 million people attempting to flee life and death situations around the world because of political instability and human-created utter chaos. They are called refugees. They barely have a voice in the media or any political system. You do. So why are you wasting it just freaking out? Don’t get me wrong, the world is a scary place for a lot of people and the fear that drives vicious rhetoric should never just be pushed aside as invalid. Rather we should be asking ourselves why are so many people in a country as well off and politically empowered as the USA so fearful of other humans? It seems downright bizarre. If you’re so serious about taking steps to flee the USA should your ideology not come out on top, let me recommend two ways you may start. First, watch the South Park episode on this very subject. Note the ending. Yeah. Second, find a local organization that serves the at-risk migrants community in your area, offer to volunteer a few hours of your time with one of those organizations and listen to some of their stories. Be sure to bring an open mind because I promise you, you’ll need it.

An important thing to consider: Do you realize that it’s actually a lot of work to attain residency, let alone citizenship in another country? Maybe if you’re ridiculously rich or have a highly sought after professional skill you can do it with relative speed and ease, but even then it’s far from easy. After one of the latest political media circus extravaganzas, there was a massive spike in the Google searches of ‘How to move to Canada’. It takes time contributing to a national and local economy as well as lots of bureaucratic hoops to jump through to become a resident of another country, let alone attain citizenship. Every day both in the US and every other country around the world jobs are lost, hearts are broken, families are kept apart and progress is stagnated because of the inability to attain residency in a place other than one’s birth. Hopefully most of those Canada Googlers figured that one out from their page-one results. If not, yet again — go ask somebody who’s actually been through a migration process.

By nature of the fact that you’re saying this, you’ve likely never actually lived and worked outside the U.S. If you had, you would know that the reach of ‘brand America’ (as I consider it) is a lot like the chemical known as DDT. It has permeated almost every cranny of the world and — while the concentrations vary from place to place — you can’t really avoid it. Pretty much almost everywhere you go, people will figure out quickly that you are North American, then ask ‘US or Canada?’. Likely to follow will be questions regarding American pop culture or political circus-ry (such as now). The intriguing thing is that more often than not these conversations are quite jovial and people’s impressions of ‘brand America’ are often quite positive (more the pop culture stuff though, let’s be real). By and large most people around the world still seem to be positive or at least polite about ‘brand America’ like the popular girl in high school. This will always confound me. So, come on people, let’s not screw this up by running around the world trying to drop in on countries like that annoying kid who thinks he’s popular but really just crashes all the good parties and acts like an idiot.

If you care at all, why not do something rather than just throwing your hands in the air and saying, “Well sh*t!?!”. Last I checked, the U.S. political system was some kind of democratic republic — but it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a civics class. The main point is: It’s supposed to be an open process. Yes, it’s far from perfect. Yes, the Citizens United ruling was a massive blow to anyone who likes to fantasize about what democracy should act like. But the important thing is there’s always something you can do about it. We still live in a country with the right to free speech. That is incredibly powerful. Today, more than any other point in known history, each of us has more publishing power than even news organizations had a hundred years ago. Use it. Most importantly, use it to find people, connect and start an action committee of citizens who care in your community. Rebel against the fear and ignorance with compassion and reason. Try to constantly ask yourself if your efforts help others or just hurt ‘the other’. Aim for the former and avoid the latter. There are enough other people taking up the latter. Leverage both online and local communities to do beneficial work that revives your hope in humanity and maybe even helps people along the way. The opportunity is always there.

So Americans who keep saying you’ll move to another country if your side doesn’t win, please stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves. You’re disrespecting the billions of people around the world who live in countries other than America. You’re disrespecting the millions of people who have worked their arses off to be able to live in the U.S. You’re disrespecting the millions of Americans around the world who live outside the U.S. and do great work contributing to communities and economies of respectable sovereign nations. Yes, the world is changing in massive ways. No matter what your political, religious or other self-identifying characteristics may be, we all need to be adaptable more than ever, positively adaptable. Look at the track records of the species that came before us; none of the ones still around today clung to outdated behaviors or systems that didn’t serve them. Maybe it’s time we adapted our system.

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