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.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Cross-Cultural Experiences, Culture, Psychology

3 Comments on “The Expatriot (Not Starring Mel Gibson)”

  1. Alex Kinnan Says:

    Agreed on most or all fronts. It troubles me that the line between patriotism and jingoism has become so thin. While the U.S. is a top-drawer nation by many objective measures, it is not the pinnacle of human development that so many here seem to think it is (while offering little to no credible or well thought out evidence as to why), it is still merely a great nation among other nations (many of which are themselves great), on a planet that I like to think is at least pretty good. 🙂

    It does seem that the most ardent proponents of American Exceptionalism tend to be the same folks who create and maintain the image of us in many parts of the world that people consider when they decide they don’t like us all that much…

  2. Evonne Says:

    Wow, Alex. That’s pretty much exactly what I was going to say, but more eloquently & definitely more succinctly.

  3. handmaid leah Says:

    It is a shame that people have misconstrued what American Exceptionalism actually is – a country that is exceptional in its form of government & liberty – which is freedom from government tyranny.
    These exceptional ideals have been tarnished by the interventionism bu the USA in foreign affairs, jingoism and fear-mongering by her politicians. One could go on and on – no worries, I won’t.
    America is exceptional in that she seeks liberty for her citizens against government tyranny – this is unique because the people possess the power – at least we are supposed to; this has sadly been worn away by complacency, corruption and ignorance of a citizen’s responsibilities. But our Constitution makes the American form of government exceptional or unique (if that is a word you prefer).
    Being the fallen creatures we are, we get heady with our power and think that our way is the only way. America has to walk the same tight rope that Orthodoxy does – in the case of the Faith – we possess the fullness of the Truth and must walk the walk.
    The USA is in that same boat – our form of governance is the ultimate in freedom for the individual and must walk the walk being an example for the world – not its policeman or big brother.
    Though as an American Orthodox, there is only one place that I seek citizenship in…

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