A US divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’

The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming immigrants to New York since 1886. A poem inscribed in the statue's base says: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free..." Keystone

I’ve always considered myself an American “liberal”. Now, having lived in Switzerland for two years and watching the current US elections unfold overseas, my view of the US, and society in general, has been altered.

This content was published on June 29, 2016 - 16:03
Courtney Morfing in Biel

Living abroad and travelling extensively has given me the opportunity to meet and experience many different cultures and people. It has made me hyper-aware that the world is smaller than we think, and the people living in it are not all as bad as they are being portrayed by a certain Presidential candidate.

Originally from Hilton Head, South Carolina, Courtney Morfing has lived near Biel in central Switzerland for the past two years. While here, the 32-year-old taught 1st and 2nd grade at the International School of Solothurn. She and her husband are relocating to New York in June. swissinfo.ch

The United States – a country that was once about unity and presenting one common voice to the rest of the world – has now divided its voices. We were a great country. We aided in wars and landed men on the moon. We were an inviting country . . . “Give us your tired, your poor. . . .” Now people in the US want to turn away anyone who looks or speaks differently, because they’re afraid.

Since moving to Europe I’ve become more open-minded and less judgemental. I’m more vocal about my preferences and political affiliations, because I don’t want the international community to think I might be affiliated with a particular candidate who is deemed a mockery of the democratic system.

I am also extremely baffled, upset and angered by the vast number of US citizens taking such staunch positions on antiquated topics. Many people in the US are demonstrating fear, hate, bigotry, sexism and racism, and it is clearly dividing the US into “us” and “them”. The vocal minority in the US has its blinders on to the rest of the disappointed world, and they don’t care.

I want to make my time in Europe extend far past the expiration date on my residence permit. I want to take my experiences of tolerance, diversity and global citizenry back to the US and instill these values in my classroom. I want to give them to my own children and to people who seem to have lost their way.

I want to fight for a presidential candidate who believes that inclusion, tolerance and the American Dream can be achieved by anyone, no matter their religious background, social class, sexual preference, gender or skin color.

Europe has given me the gift of seeing that it is possible to bring “us” and “them” together. Walls don’t separate us and cultural diversity shouldn’t tear us apart; it should bring us together, to make one amazing, unique world.

The views expressed in this article are solely the views of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of swissinfo.ch.

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