For thirty-seven years, I've called the United States my home. I wasn't born here and as a dual citizen, I've always had the opportunity to leave. As time has gone on, I've considered doing so, and that consideration has become increasingly serious over the last year.
I am a European Jew, and as such, the lesson of history is that there are times to fight and times to run. When you can, you dig in your heels and fight to make a better world. I was brought up with the idea that volunteering and being politically active isn't just a good thing to do, it's an obligation - personally, culturally and religiously.
At the same time, the lessons of the past teach us that there's a time to call it in. Those Jews who fled Nazi Germany and Poland before the Nazis had total control have a much less interesting story to tell. Fighting the good fight is important, but when the cause is lost and your safety is at stake, it's better to choose safety and family, and to move on rather than die at the hands of an enemy with more resources.
I am finding myself at a crossroads with the country I've called home a vast majority of my life. I had a similar concern during the 2001-era Bush administration when those in power used the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an excuse to erode and eliminate our personal and civil liberties. We saw an elimination of the rights of privacy. Instead, our phones were tapped and we were photographed naked in order to travel on airplanes. More than that, the idea of personal privacy itself was lost in exchange for the illusion of security.
Now we come to another milestone in the US where those in power use their power for their own benefit, where our leaders including but not only Trump, have created and continue to create a system that protects only them and theirs while claiming to speak for and represent the country.
We see these acts not only on the large scale but individually as well, as our president uses his influence and social media to wage a personal war on corporations and even individuals who publicly criticize his actions. We may dismiss these actions as being the exclusive domain of one person, but in doing so we ignore the system that allows one individual's actions to go unchecked.
Instead of rising up against tyranny, we see those in power who dare to speak out against tyranny being pressured, marginalized or threatened- all methods to used to instill fear and silence. We see newfound levels of opacity and secrecy. And we see our leadership blatantly lying. Where there has always been disagreement and interpretation, complete fabrication is now considered an acceptable political tool.
I've been unhappy about the US in the past and worked to change it. I've been politically active in the past and still donate to campaigns whose values my own. I've known about and accepted the risks that go along with "speaking out", but now I wonder if the tide has turned and it's time to
I don't think this is permanent. All political systems rise and fall, and fascists cannot hold onto power forever and even empires fall. Their time will come and freedom, liberty, tolerance, and fairness will rise again. I hope that as it did in the 20th Century, that the people will rise up against the concentration of power and move the country to a fairer system. I hope this is what happens, but there is no guarantee. And until that time, there's a lot to be afraid of.
The US, and New York City in particular, are my home but I fear I may need to step away from that home, and that makes me very sad.