The Expatriot (Not Starring Mel Gibson)
The United Arab Emirates National Day celebrations were just a few days ago and the excitement is contagious. The UAE celebrated its 38th birthday on December 2.
I find I get excited when I think of many aspects of this culture and nation. I have a desire to put a UAE flag on my car and celebrate this country as a new home for me.
However, I also hesitate because when I lived in the States, I purposefully did not display American flags on my car or in my house. In many ways I see myself as a pilgrim and stranger on this earth. My allegiance to any nation is not greater than another. I am pro-world before I am pro-America or pro-UAE.
Also, if I champion America and become patriotic it feels like I, as an American citizen, am saying, “American is better than anywhere else!” Indeed, in many ways Oscar Wilde was right when he stated, “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” However, if I flaunt the UAE as a non-Emirati, I feel like I am saying, “I embrace this country as equal to all the rest, as a culture and nation that adds to the world’s beauty. It is also my home.”
My American acts of patriotism are also more subtle. I have never complained about paying taxes and consider it an honor to do so. I signed up for the draft–though it is law I also considered it the right thing to do. I vote.
Here in the UAE, I pay no taxes, not even sales tax. I am not “on call” for the military. I do not vote.
So maybe flying a UAE flag or putting a sticker on my car will help me highlight its strenghts, embrace it as a home and show some outward support for the country that is allowing me, a foreign, to live and work within its borders. It doesn’t mean I think the UAE is better than America or anywhere else. It doesn’t mean I think America is worse than the UAE.
It just means that I am an “expatriot.”