Hotel California

I follow world affairs closely because it all fascinates me. Today was no exception. Earlier as I was watching the world news, Brexit was mentioned, which in a way was a surprise. American news networks seem more concerned with things like the weather or the latest Hollywood buzz than true substantive news. It’s a sad state of affairs here. Thank God for the BBC. So when they mention the news from overseas, I perk up. Brexit was worthy enough to make mention some 13 minutes into tonight’s broadcast. Sorry England, you guys didn’t even beat out the story of a puppy rescued from a storm drain. That bit of breaking news came within the first 10 minutes.

I feel bad for my readers across the pond. Brexit continues to paralyze the country, and there seems to be no end in sight. Ask every day Britons how they feel about Brexit, and the general answer is everyone wants it to be over with one way or another, and you know what? We Americans can relate. While we don’t have the same issues, we have our own political mess. You guys do know this, right?

European history isn’t one of my strongpoints, but I understand why the EU came into existence. Europe is unique, and such a union, it was reasoned, was in everyone’s best interest there. Uh-huh. When I think of how Brussels treated your leader Theresa May, and by extension the people of England, I can’t help but think of The Eagle’s song “Hotel California.” There’s a line in it that goes something like, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” To us outside the fish bowl looking in, EU membership looks suspiciously like being in a gang. It’s easy to get in, but go ahead and try to leave and see what happens.

Of course, I’m not serious here, just poking fun at a difficult situation. I’m all for free trade (or not), and I mean no harm to my British and European friends. When life becomes so serious that you can’t laugh at your situation, what’s the point? If we Americans didn’t do this when it came to politics here, we’d’ve all been set to pasture long ago. You do know who our president is, yes?

Which brings me to my next random thought. Sometimes I wonder what people around the world think of us Americans. When I was young I lived in Japan, and the Japanese were very kind to me. I say to them with the warmest heart: Arigato, gozaimasu. Nihon ni yonen imashita. Watakushi wa Tokyo ga daisuki desu. While I was there, I went to an international school, and all my foreign friends were kind to me, too. But it feels like things have changed since those times, and it saddens me.

I once heard a BBC broadcaster say that there’s a saying over there, and it is that Americans should never be the ones to pick the next President of the United States. Ouch. That one stings, but okay, I think we’ve earned it. In our defense, most Americans are so absorbed in their mindless day-to-day chase of the American dream that they are only vaguely aware that there is a world beyond Mexico and Canada (to my Mexican and Canadian friends, no matter what happens politically, you guys are tops in our book).

Which brings me to my readers in Central and South America. Contrary to what our president says, we Americans welcome you with warm and open arms. ¡Y los amo a todos! Whether you are from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, it does not matter. We are a nation of immigrants; it is what makes the United States the United States. We’re not a perfect nation, but we are a proud people.

Before I close, I have one last random thought. In all fairness to our president, it should be noted that he’s an outsider fighting The Swamp. He has been willing to push back whenever he has felt it necessary, regardless if you’re a friend or ally. To our enemies he has shown respect and warmth, and built relationships. I’d imagine that by the time he leaves office, some of our current allies will be enemies, who will then by default be our friends; it’s an amazing act of chess-like statecraft.

Oh, and to my Russian readers (when I have some), you guys have played your hand masterfully. Pat yourselves on the back. To everyone else I offer these final parting words: It’s not that serious guys, let’s not forget to smile!