When things get bad, is it really necessary to go down with the ship?
“Your forefathers came to America and worked hard to live here for centuries. You’re turning your back on them if you leave now.”
“No matter how bad things get, you have a responsibility to stay in America, so you can help improve the conditions.”
“You should stay in America so you can work hard to make things better here.”
Over the past several years, I have heard these arguments from a number of different people. They agree that America is rapidly going downhill morally, and they don’t dispute it. They just think I should stay in America anyway. They don’t understand why I chose to move to Russia.
Even if things are better in Russia, they think I have a responsibility to stay in America and to “tough it out”, so that I can have a positive influence, and make a concerted effort to make America a better place to live. Apparently they see it as a character flaw to leave one country and move to another.
But I don’t buy it. It’s a bad argument. I’m calling bull.
When people make these sorts of claims, I have trouble taking them seriously. Here’s why:
These people don’t object when a family leaves a dangerous neighborhood in a big city and relocates to a safe neighborhood in a small town. They don’t say, “No matter how dangerous it may be, you and your family need to continue living near the inner-city projects so you can make things better there. You have a responsibility to improve the conditions of the place where you already live.” On the contrary, people normally say, “Congratulations! I’m so glad you moved your family to a better place!”
If moving from Chicago to central Kansas is perfectly acceptable for the sake of safety, then what’s wrong with moving from America to Russia for the same reason? If my family doesn’t owe undying allegiance to a particular city, then why should we owe it to a particular country?
These people don’t object when someone relocates to a foreign country in order to study abroad. They don’t say, “Forget about that education. It’s your responsibility to stay local!” Rather, people often say, “Congratulations! That’s great that you got into such a good university!”
These people don’t object when adventerous youths or retired people decide to travel the world. They don’t say, “It’s wrong for you to spend months touring Europe and Asia. If you don’t stay home and fight to improve your local community, you are shirking your responsibilities!” Instead, people usually say, “Congratulations! It sounds like you’re going on a big adventure!”
These people don’t object when someone moves internationally to accept a lucrative job offer. They don’t say, “No matter how much money they are paying, you need to turn it down. It’s more important that you stay here and work on improving the local community.” Rather, people often say, “Congratulations! That’s wonderful that you got such a great new job!”
Apparently, it’s perfectly fine to leave your country if it’s for the sake of money, education, or adventure. But for some reason, people can get really upset when you move abroad for the sake of protecting your family.
Perhaps they are just trying to avoid a guilty conscience. Maybe they want to convince themselves that complacency is actually a form of martyrdom and heroism.
But I’m not buying it. I’m protecting my family. I’m not willing to go down with the ship.
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