You may have seen, if you were paying close attention to our social media, that I (Megan) just got back from a month long road trip down the East Coast of the USA. Traveling around America for a month, I have to admit, made me uneasy. Not because of safety, or the sheer amount of driving, but because this country as a whole right now, is not a country I am proud of.
>>>You can read Steph’s thoughts about traveling the world as an American in the age of Trump here.
I didn’t exactly want to encourage tourism to this country right now, because people are being persecuted because of their differences, whether that is skin color, countryhood, religion, beliefs, or anything in between. People are fleeing extreme and unjust violence, religious persecution, and very dangerous situations to be met with a blunt wall of hatred and essentially “f*** yous”. This country was BUILT on people fleeing persecution, what makes us above it now?
This is not an America that I am proud to show off.
In the past, when things have gone awry, I’ve always taken the stance that I want to show that not all of America believes those things or that there are good and safe alternatives when another mass shooting hits international news.
At the end of the day, I was always proud of my country. Not in a blind way, I always saw its quirks but appreciated its pros.
Lately, I haven’t been proud.
So, how do I spend the next month writing about America on this blog? And pushing these great destinations out into the social airwaves.
How do I promote this country to tourists and foreigners and essentially the exact “different” people that so much of America is openly showing hatred towards? How do I show off the things that really do make America great when our government and many of our people are making it extremely obvious that they aren’t interested in allowing people who are “different” across our borders?
As I traveled down the coast and stopped in each city and town and suburbia along the way, I kept this thought in mind.
I pushed myself to have conversations, not arguments. To go into each situation with an open mind. I sought out immigrant owned businesses, tried to be respectful of every person’s thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I tried to be what I think being an American really means.
The whole trip I was showing around a couple of gals from the UK. I expected some backlash in certain places targeted towards the fact that they were foreigners. I never expected violence or anything like that, but definitely expected some snide remarks or unfriendly glances.To my surprise, we never got that. (We did get a couple funny comments about how we escaped from them during some of our more historical tours 😉 )
I don’t know if it was because I was with this girls or what, but I have to admit that I was constantly surprised by how friendly people were throughout the entire trip. I pride myself in putting forward a positive light at all times, no matter what my day is I don’t take it out on those I interact with. I know not everyone can do that, and that people have bad days, so even if someone is nasty to me, I still try my best to put on a smile and treat them with respect.
In my experience, America is usually a mix of light and darkness. And I have to say that this trip swayed that mindset for me.
Where I expected to see bigotry, extreme nationalism, sexism, and more, I was met with smiles, laughs, intrigue, and respect.
This is the America I am proud of and the America that I hope we can rebuild to become once again.
From the gentlemen at the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place outside of Lexington, KT who for once, didn’t talk to me like I was a dumb little girl and who didn’t try to sell me stupid shit I didn’t need just because I was a woman, to the countless people who worked at the properties, restaurants, or tour companies that we encountered who went out of their way to show off their cities, neighborhoods, towns, and people to us.
This was the America I wanted to show off.
So while, yes, we have a long way to go as a country, I’m happy to say that the individuals that make this country great are still there. Buried beneath the headlines and the negative political climate, is a country full of people from various social, political and religious upbringings who are all living together on one land.
Do I think that the press and politics should take it down a notch in favor of not overshadowing the individuals that actually do make this country great? My firm answer is no.
This country has seen an enlightening because of this government. An enlightening that will help to push this country forward in the rebuilding process, that is, if it is still standing in two years’ time. I say we keep exposing the injustices, the atrocities, the things that are ripping this country apart. Keep marching, keep paying attention and keep getting involved. Eventually, these individuals, I hope, can rise to the forefront again once all the work has been done.
I know this blog post has taken a few different turns and I appreciate you taking this journey with me. It’s something I’m still digesting and I’ll be digesting it for months to come, I think.
This country has a lot of history, and the East Coast certainly showcases that in many many many different forms. I hope you’ll read along as I share stories from my month traveling it!