Long before I spent time abroad, I identified much more as a global citizen than purely as an American. We have a lot to be proud of in the United States—this American experiment has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the Constitution’s framers—but we don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. Indeed, many of our most “American” ideals and cultural staples have been imported, to put it politely.
When I lived in Buenos Aires, I got my first real taste of what life is like outside the (North) American context. Experiences captured in books and films pale in comparison to cultural immersion, and these experiences can open you up to a new way of seeing the world. The humans who escape the gravity of their home country tend to see the world differently, and it’s hard not to detect the fleeting outlines of a utopian pluralism with enough Malbec on hand.
I didn’t return to the United States with a grand theory on world peace, but I certainly gained some invaluable perspective.
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.
From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
—Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut