This house maintains that America should be the world’s policeman.
This was the motion that we argued when the British came to debate. Funny what happens to the youth of a once-mighty empire. They become effete, ineffectual, intellectual and smug. I adored them! They won the debate, but then, I went to college with 90% morons. To clarify, I mean that .90 of my peers at AMC were willfully stupid. I might have misplaced the decimal. To be perfectly honest with you, I am not all that smart. I’m basically N’Kisi, who sits (perches?) on the board of the Center for Interspecies Consciousness and Communication; he is an African parrot with a 1,000 word vocabulary. Ah-doy.
When I was an undergraduate and matched wits with those clever Oxbridgians so many years ago I argued against the proposition. I made salient points about isolationism and the Founding Fathers, The Vietman War and bolstering the domestic situation first and foremost. We should not act as policemen or parents to an infantalized world body, doling out lessons and laws based on our particular value system. I also wore a very short skirt. Afterward winners and losers alike bonded over many pints in the back room at Viva Zapatas. The back room at Vivas is not as dirty as it sounds. Try the chicken nachos! You’ll regret it!
This was just a humorous prelude to a new anecdote and subsequent thoughts about my own feelings and actions. I’m blogging!
Earlier today – I was driving Olivia to the vet to get chemotherapy for her venereal disease -idling at a stoplight, I witnessed a woman in a red sportsish car pull up next to me, pause a moment and then proceed through the decidedly red light without regret. I was incensed. I was dumbfounded. I was going to bring the law. As soon as the light turned green I was first off the line – suck it suckas- and all up in her grill. Except behind her. What is the term for backside grill? Anyway. I was determined to teach that scofflaw a lesson, school her in the ways of the road, that I, as an American felt compelled, nay, obliged to demonstrate.
Then I realized I am not tough at all and more to the point the offending person was not paying attention to my gestures and articulations. And neither was anyone else. I kept looking around to the other drivers, waiting for them to be like, “all of us together and you (me) by default are in the know and had better make an example of this menace”, And yet I got nothing. No one seemed bothered, or even aware. No one was looking to my exceptional driving skills and etiquette for advice and consultation. I was gesticulating in a vaccum, with no one but my dog to validate me.
It was in that split second that I learned I am a hypocrite. While I don’t want the US to be the world’s policeman and impose (our) worldview and chain restaurants on the good citizens of every other non God-fearing country out there, I want to. Little. Old. Me. Average, minimally employed, good for little other than wearing boots and making quips, was ready to take a private citizen to task for a more than minimal infraction. I thought I wielded unspoken power; I thought I possessed superior knowledge; I thought I was an instrument of justice, rules-following and the American way.
As it turns out I am just a pawn in a Platina, as impotent as I am imperializing. Imperialeading? No one gives a nut about my presence in a traffic non-incident. But what does this mean about my overall attitude as an expat? I always assumed I was comporting myself with grace, deference and dignity. I don’t rub McDonald’s cheeseburgers in the face of the local taco vendor. I don’t wave the American flag out my sunroof as I drive down the Paseo de Montejo. I don’t sing out loud The Star Spangled Banner when I am hanging out at La Musa on a Saturday night. I’m a mouse, a guest, a darling. Until you blow a red light.
Then, you have better watch out. I will make siren sounds with my mouth and I will pretend to pull your (un-American) ass over. Game on.
NB: I was hoping to get to use the word tautology in this post but somehow it never came up and I wanted to say/think about it anyway. There you go, your word of the day.