I have been living overseas for the past 14 years and there are things I believe in that I haven’t been a part of that entire time. One of these things is civic life and politics. There's a level of disconnect. I live overseas which means I am not allowed to vote in my home country, and at the same time, I am a guest in another country and don't feel like it's my place to get involved (coupled with the uneasy feeling that should I misstep, I may no longer be welcome in this country, which would be... problematic, to say the least). I would love to be able to vote in my home country like some can, but even then I’m not sure that would be enough.
Not being able to vote is an excuse, maybe even a cop-out.
The recent US election seems to have sparked the potential rebirth of political action amongst a group of citizens who have, up until now, been able to feel satisfied with their political and civic contribution - even though it has consisted mostly of Facebook “likes” and “shares” and the occasional financial donation. I put myself squarely in that camp.
It feels like a page is turning and that it is time to figure this out, for myself, and for my kids.
I believe that a core purpose of parenting is to demonstrate, through action and example, responsible adulthood. This doesn’t mean that we are perfect, but we adhere to core beliefs and live by them. It’s why if we want our kids to get off their phones at the dinner table, we need to make sure ours is far away too!
I think that there is a tendency for expats to disconnect from civic society. Whether it’s an inability to engage in local politics, the physical and emotional distance being away from home, or the comfortable bubble sheltering us from many of the challenges others face while we busily live our lives, trying to raise our kids to the best of our abilities. It's time to turn the page, but I’m not sure how to do that.
Over the next few days I’m going to get in touch with a few expat friends and acquaintances I feel are really engaged, regardless of where they live. Their engagement may be civic, political, social justice or environmental in a way that gives them connection. In a week or so I’d like to share a few of their stories.
In the meantime if you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please leave them on the facebook group (link below) and if you know of anyone I should profile, please email me at phil at expatparenting dot org. Also, please leave your email address so I can send you the update.
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