Out of curiosity, I ventured onto a site the other night that listed real estate in Ireland. I wondered what the dollar (or in this case, Euro) would buy in another country. Imagine my delight to stumble upon a wonderful cottage dating back to the 1880s. I fancied myself strolling through the acre of garden, adding in my mind a bird bath here, a pond there. The site included photographs of the interior of the two bedroom place. Exposed beams enhanced the ceilings while a combination of original wood and tiles decorated the floors. The modest kitchen had “newish” appliances while the miniscule bath proved functional. The total square footage? Just a little over seven hundred square feet. The price tag? About $300,000 American dollars. As I fantasized moving to this rain blessed country, I wondered what I’d do with all my stuff.
When we travelled to Ireland last fall, it didn’t take me long to realize just how plentiful our lives are here in the states. We take for granted our warehouse sized grocery stores stocked with twenty different cereals. Choice. Our entire economy functions on supplying the consumer with a multitude of choices in every product imaginable. We make certain through our constant advertising to convince our citizens that the next, newest, biggest product becomes necessary for personal happiness and survival. Being in another country forced me to realize that we have too much. The gluttony within our country makes us into petulant children whining, “I want” or “Gimme.”
Our country faces as many problems as it offers opportunities and choices. Frustration floods me when I hear the trite slogan, “America, love it or leave it.” I don’t love everything about my country. Right now, the political landscape makes me wonder what it would be like to escape into the Irish countryside. Then I get angry because those citizens spouting “Leave it!” have an agenda that will take away the strengths of this country. The choices and diversity found, not just on our store shelves, but within our fundamental beliefs become endangered as people like me are painted as being “un-American” when we make critical suggestions for improving our world. These same people who scream, “Love it!” try to impose a narrow interpretation of rights that reflect their personal values and beliefs while excluding others. In their minds, warping our society into their point of view falls into their rights of citizenship; and yet my right for a government not bound by religious views or corporate interests should be denied. No matter how much that little piece of Irish real estate entices me, I’ll remain firmly rooted here because I still believe in the possibilities of our country.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman