It’s interesting to note Gladwell’s personal history here as well. He was born in England, his mother is Jamaican (as is mine) and his father is from England. His family then moved to Canada. He is a child of immigration, migration and travel. So, he knows a bit about what’s beyond America’s borders, but is also aware of the pull of America’s greatness — real and perceived.
As a child of immigrants, I have always had this distinct feeling that every challenge my parents surmounted was done so for me to succeed here — not back in their home countries — but here. There was also a not-so-subtle message sent throughout my life that my parents’ home countries are still great — wonderful even — and worthy of deep respect. But success, achievement and doing something that matters while preserving the best possible well-being for myself and future family happens here.
“Home is wonderful, and it’s important to see the world, but America is where you must achieve.” Or so the message seemed to go. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gladwell received a similar message at points in his life.
This push and pull to stay in or leave America is so unique to each of us. There are issues of race, gender, sexuality, religion, and socioeconomic privilege (or lack thereof) to consider when deciding to live elsewhere in the world. I certainly agree that leaving one’s home country builds resilience and a healthy breadth of perspective. But there is, at least for me, another equally strong pull too: the work to be done here in the U.S. to make this a place that exceeds the expectations of those who leave their homes to come here, that is known more for making things that make a difference than replacing the services of one’s doting mother (that is so spot on, thank you), and that is a true haven for people of all races, cultures and creeds. That’s worthy work, I think. But to do it well, I agree, it’s important to leave home, see the world and give it a place in your heart.
Thanks so much for sharing this, David.