A good friend of mine, a Canadian citizen who has lived in Canada for 40 years, recently shared some of her thoughts with me regarding what she describes as a sort of cognitive dissonance in terms of her changing feelings towards the country she was born in, grew up in, and is still a citizen of – the USA. The following is narrated from some emails she sent me, and for which she gave permission to share with the Brock community. She says:
I needed a break from all this FATCA craziness, so went to a show called “Rock ‘n Roll Legends”, at a local theater with my neighbours. Although the theater is small, it is a class act and people come from all over to watch the shows. I expected to have trouble staying in my seat and figured I would want to dance up and down the aisles. And it was just fabulous! They did this retrospective of showing US news on the screen while performing the music that was current at the time from the 60′ and 70’s. The cast was amazing. They had the music just absolutely perfectly dead on, all could sing unbelievably well, mimicking the original artists perfectly, and each played multiple instruments.
It was unreal. But the most unpredictable thing happened to me. Instead of wanting to dance in the aisles, I ended up sobbing. You didn’t grow up in the USA, and are much younger than me. I lived through Viet Nam and lost classmates. I lived through the atrocities committed, and yet I loved my country – not the government but the nation. I loved my classmates that died in Nam, understood that: only the poor kids were sent to fight and were not honoured upon their return; the politicians’ kids didn’t go; and the country didn’t care about the expendable poor kids but just used them for political fodder.
In a strange way that whole era, combined in my head at the same time with this FATCA mess we are currently in, and I had this soul wrenching, demoralizing sense of utter betrayal and complete understanding of what a fool I have been for so many years. I just sobbed. They showed pictures from Viet Nam – the young soldiers, the devastation – all to the backdrop of “He ain’t heavy he’s my brother”. It just killed me.
To actually have believed that the country was good, but to now understand that the government has always been and always will be just simply cruel, makes me ashamed to have this red, white and blue tattoo, just simply ashamed. Yet it is who I am. At a gut level I think I actually see myself as an American living in Canada. But now I am left with this empty, groundless, terrifying feeling. I cannot shed this ‘American thing’ that is me, nor am I really Canadian (aside from living here for 40 years and having a Canadian passport).
In the grand scale of life does it really matter? We are all citizens of this planet. Maybe having what one calls a ‘national identity’ is just simply foolish, and an ego thing. Intellectually, I believe this but in my gut I am simply sick, sad and very, very unhappy. It is a sense of being adrift, beyond lonely, of not having one drop of solid ground under my feet, having no identity, and of being terrified of and hurt by my once beloved country.
Am I making one drop of sense? I really can’t describe the source of my tears nor the pain in my tummy. Betrayal? Fear? Being adrift? Am I overreacting? Maybe being involved with this fight day in and day out is causing me to flip out. But it is real, and not dealing with it, not fighting back will do nothing to make it go away. I have to stay involved. Taking a break will just cause me more anxiety.
Well, so much for it being a fun night. I now feel hung over and exhausted, and I didn’t drink a thing! My head is stuck in a depressive bubble.
@2terrified2sleep, hang in there. Don’t let this eat you up inside. “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.
re; why “clinging” to/maintaining dual status – I’m not sure that “clinging” justly expresses the situation for duals – unless it is rather used to describe the actions of the US – in clinging to us – only for our potential as revenue sources/taxable subjects not as citizens – creating ever higher barriers for those who seek to give up US citizenship, however acquired. If one lives in Canada where often marriages, families, work, education, travel and other parts of life are very entwined with the other side of the border – well, it isn’t such a simple thing to choose to potentially give up one’s access to family, or deny one’s origins/sentimental associations/family history.
We should have the freedom as individuals to choose how we define ourselves – it is not up to someone else to prescribe for us. And we should not be forced to do what most other citizens do not have to choose (apart from other countries who do not allow for dual status in order to naturalize). As someone pointed out, dual citizenship is not always as problematic as the US has chosen to make it. There are many other citizenship combinations which cause no problems whatsoever. How often are people required to jump through the equivalent of the flaming hoops that US renunciation/relinquishment has become? I do not believe that dual status necessarily means divided loyalties, and I relate to those here who take a more global/universal worldview.
On another note, re comments about plans for marking July 1st, or 4th, or nothing or other asides in discussions – we have plenty of past threads which have entertained diversions – some of which proved fruitful and interesting. Unless it completely derails the main point, then it doesn’t strike me as grave enough to warrant hand slapping.
Badger: Thank you for that very thoughtful comment.
Put in terms of my own situation, after moving to Canada as a young child I was taught that the retention of my American citizenship was a *courtesy* extended to me by virtue of my birthplace. I was taught that I would be welcome in the United States at any time and would not need to apply to immigrate should I ever decide to return to live there.
I was 18 years old when I became a Canadian and had no way of knowing where my life would take me. I wished to be a full partner in the country that had become my home but my flesh and blood were American; it was important (and still is) for me to acknowledge my roots. As I said in a previous comment, I am an inclusive person and being a citizen of two countries who (supposedly) shared many of the same values was in no way a problem for me. I was, by very nature, both. In my humble and penny-conscious home there assuredly *would* have been concern over a potential tax liability associated with retaining my US citizenship if such liability had been understood.
Imagine being 56 years old and finding out that those decades-old lessons were untrue. The situation I have found myself in over the past four years has been like being ripped in half. I am now exiled from my native land and separated from every blood relative I have on the planet.
Yet the pain has been somewhat dulled by the passage of time and I have been able to steer my grief and anger into positive action and to regain a passionate sense of hope. I have learned *this* lesson from the army of FATCA-fighters on this blog (including White Kat’s friend) and in the comment pages of publications. The bravery and constancy of commitment that I find here is an inspiration that I cannot live without. We will all get through this together … and, I believe, … victoriously. How long it’s going to take is anybody’s guess.
@MuzzledNoMore, your comments and the experiences you relate resonate with me. Thank you for all that you’ve done to move us forward, and all the contributions you’ve made. IBS and later, Maple Sandbox was what allowed me to survive this ordeal – to try and channel my grief, fear, anxiety and finally anger more productively – into searching, learning, participating and as much as I could, acting in order to resist being ground under without sound or protest. It was via IBS that I started to be able to imagine getting through this – to understand more the size and scope of the CBT and FATCA and GATCA problem – and how it shackles us. To understand how to renounce/relinquish. IBS was invaluable in helping me to try and learn enough to help protect myself and my Canadian family as best I could. I got invaluable support via IBS and an education in nitty gritty details as provided to us by Just Me (ex. http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/01/28/the-ovdi-drudgery-for-minnows/ ), ij ( http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/09/16/a-minnow-opts-out-of-the-irss-ovdi-and-gets-the-correct-result-a-simple-warning-letter/ ), moby ( http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/03/10/moby-opt-out-update/ ) , Not that Lisa ( http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2013/06/16/an-irs-ovdi-ordeal-with-a-happy-ending-an-opt-out-success-story-as-told-by-not-that-lisa/ ), and others – information that existed nowhere else. It was also from Just Me that I learned of the existence of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate – and eventually passed that information on to others.
I could not have gotten through this without those at IBS – and later, also Maple Sandbox. I had no inkling of the UStaxablecitizen-as-property-and-hostage-of-the-US-Treasury jeopardy before hearing about CBT and FBAR in the Fall of 2011 via CBC radio. Knowing what we now know would have made a huge difference to me and to many others at that time, I am sure. The US stole my energy, focus, peace of mind and that of my family, for a substantial period of time – as well as a portion of our Canadian made and sited savings gone uselessly to prove what was glaringly obvious – I owed them zilch and am not a criminal moneylaunderingdruglordterroristfundraiser.