I watched the large Muslim family walk slowly away from me today without an incident. For a moment I felt envious of their extended family gathering. Sometimes traveling alone can feel a bit lonely. They were most likely on holiday, enjoying the Chinese New Year in Malaysia. As they walked away I instantly felt relief, followed by utter shame. I had just lied to them.
It has been odd watching the political events surrounding the Presidential election in America from distant global destinations. For the last few months I have been a passive bi-stander of the unraveling of my beloved nation. I must admit, I’ve wept over it all on more than one occasion.
Asians fascination with westerners
People in Asia are fascinated by westerners and are always asking me where I’m from. “America,” I’ve always said with a sense of patriotism and pride. A year and a half ago when I first came to India it would have led to conversations about Walt Disney theme parks, hamburgers or pop stars. Now the conversation has changed. Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME, I tell someone I am from America now they ask me about Donald Trump. Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m on vacation. I don’t wish to spend my precious time discussing American politics with foreigners that can’t possibly relate to my strong feelings about it anyway.
Too many political questions
My taxi driver on the way here to Cameron Highlands talked about Donald Trump for hours. I asked him three times to please stop. I clearly told him I didn’t want to discuss it, but he just kept going on and on about it. I finally put in my earphones and turned my music up to drown out the sound of his voice. I know it was rude, but he finally got the point.
When I was in Goa, India, a farmer there said I was the first American he had ever met so he asked me about Donald Trump. I burst into tears like some sort of confused adolescent. He kindly responded, “That’s okay. You answered my question.”
What I did
So today, when one of the elder men of a large extended Muslim family asked me where I was from, I quietly answered, “Canada”. They all nodded, smiled, and then left. I still can’t believe what I did! I not only lied, which is against my own personal values, but I shamefully denied that I’m an American! I’ve been thinking a lot today about all the courageous men and women that have fought for our freedom, and even for the freedom of other nations. What I did today was disgraceful, and a slap in the face to every veteran I know. I am so very, very sorry. I just couldn’t bare another discussion about Donald Trump, especially with a Muslim family.
What I didn’t realize, is that Malaysia is about 62% Muslim. The women don’t wear burqas, just a head scarf. They seem like very happy and gentle people here. I can’t help but wonder how long it is until countries like these, that are mostly Muslim, close their borders to Americans in response to us closing (or threatening to close) our borders to them. It would be such a shame if Americans could no longer visit this beautiful country full of lush landscape, fascinating culture and generous people.