Artists, writers, creative thinkers: Don’t move abroad. Stay in the U.S.

After Trump was elected, I bought a one-way flight to Copenhagen for $200.

I had never been to Copenhagen, but it seemed like utopia from what I’d read. Liberal and progressive, with big wide bike lanes. I ended up staying in Europe for about a month.

I flew back to Europe twice more in the months since, spending a fair amount of time in Finland. Helsinki seemed like paradise: it was bitterly cold but the streets looked beautiful, blanketed in ice. The wintry chill of Finland beat the scorching electric shocks of America, and Trump’s Twitter feed soon became a distant memory. Finland seemed refreshingly simple compared to the mess back home.

But now I’m back here, in the U.S. of A. As someone who specializes in writing about the arts, I’ve often thought about moving my whole life to Europe. I’m not alone in this — many of my artist friends moved long ago to cities like Berlin. I’ve certainly fantasized about leaving since Trump was elected, and moving to a faraway city with clean lines, good design, and efficient public transportation. Bike lanes as far as the eye can see. Cheaper apartments and healthcare. Public funding for the arts, good espresso, and trains that run on time.

As the situation in America grows ever darker, and the actions of the current administration grow more egregious by the day, many friends are considering leaving. My friends are having panic attacks daily, and nightmares each night. One night a nightmare about North Korea, the next night a cold sweat about Charlottesville. I’m no stranger to bad dreams myself. But it’s time to act, not react. I’m not leaving the U.S. And I don’t think you should leave, either.

People with the money and the means to stay should stay in the United States, and fight to protect those who don’t have the money and the means. Keep on making your art, keep writing, and keep creating. Be political. Don’t be afraid to express a strong opinion. Don’t be afraid to say what you really think. Start a band. Donate to charity. Show up to protests. Organize. Write to your congresspeople. Be a good and decent person to others in your everyday life. Be a good friend. Resist despair. By being the best version of you, you’re showing by example that the U.S. is not this.

The U.S. will be a place to be proud of again, and someday you’ll no longer have to tell your European friends you’re from Canada. But in the meantime, this is a teaching moment. This is when everyone in the arts should rise up.

This essay was made possible by my supporters on Patreon.

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