Co-founder of I love New Zealand shares a note from the taxi!
Although I’m a native Californian I have had the good fortune to live and travel across Asia and Africa for 6 years, discovering the ‘Kiwi ethos’ through my observations of the nomadic Kiwi traveller. Drawn to the Kiwi values in 1999 I relocated to New Zealand with three children under 4 years old to raise them in an environment where my values were closely aligned.
Nevertheless, I was raised in the USA and naturally have a strong tie to my birth place, but I did not expect the outcome of the US election to affect me as much as it has. The day after the election, I flew from the Capital Wellington to Auckland and while I was in the taxi, I sent this text message.
“You have no idea the number of times I’ve thought about your feedback to me about my inability to really know and empathise with the plight of America, because I haven’t lived there for the last 16 years. This morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach and a full acknowledgement that you were completely in the know.
I don’t know America. When I left the beautiful west coast on my journey I don’t think this outcome was a plausible scenario. Because of my accent, Kiwis constantly ask me the question, “What’s happening over there?” And to your point, I don’t know. I just have to shrug my shoulders . . . as my understanding of the undercurrent of hopelessness is evidently way beyond my ability to know, feel and be aware.
I was hurt by your statement that I don’t understand America because I’ve been living in New Zealand for the last 16 years, and to a certain degree I have been in denial, but as I sit here writing, I know you were right. I guess the outcome may be a wake-up call, because from afar the view is that if people can vote for such an incorrigible man they really must feel despair and hopelessness.
If an openly xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, unsympathetic and inexperienced leader can be elected as the leader of the once mighty USA then I have, in fact, lost touch and therefore maybe Donald Trump is right. It’s time to make America great again, to create a future where it’s not possible for a character like this to be considered as a presidential candidate. I don’t know! I imagine people, Americans living in the USA for the last 16 years, are asking themselves some hard questions this morning. Or for that matter, even once proud Americans who lived there 16 years ago, asking themselves ‘what happened’.
Last night, when I walked into a corner dairy and heard my American accent, for the first time ever I was not proud to be American! I’ve already convinced myself that this was not a vote for Trump as much as it was a statement against the incumbent system, but as you would rightfully say, I’m not there so I can’t really know. There must be a lot of pain…I feel it in my heart as I write this. The pit in my stomach…comes from not knowing. You were right, got to run as I’m just about to get out of the cab.”
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