06 July 2008
We've been enjoying our long weekend, thanks to 56 delegates who signed our Declaration of Independence from England in 1776. July 4th is now celebrated as our official holiday, complete with corn on the cob, ice cream, bike rides, cook-outs, checkered tablecloths, and of course lots of fireworks (and sparklers). We had a lot of fun making Sparkler Art like last year with friends.
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This is one of the most famous inclusions of "unalienable rights" in the Declaration, and although America is far from perfect, I'm thankful for this foundation of values that has pushed us along. I also think that living abroad has helped me see more clearly some of the good things about my home country.
I'm glad for the amount of time we spent in Italy, because we were able to scratch the surface a bit with how the system over there works, and how many people feel about their life, government, and future. We talked with so many younger people (20s-30s) who thought we were crazy for being Americans wanting to live in Italy. When we told them that we were even going to stay longer if Chris' work visa came through in time, their jaws dropped even further towards the ground, always repeating the same thing, "Ma dai! PERCHE?!?! Gli americani che vogliono vivere e lavorare QUI in Italia?!" (Come on! WHY? Americans who want to live and work here in Italy?) They just couldn't grasp why we would ever consider this, when most of them talked to us about wishing they could have the opportunity to move to, and work in America.
The more we heard this, the more we noticed a similar sentiment throughout the country...that most people are not born with this built-in feeling of "If I work hard enough, study long enough, try hard enough...I can do whatever I want, be whatever I want, be as successful as I want", like I feel many people have in America. The US is a country of opportunity, and there are so many stories of people coming from nothing to be one of the most successful people in the world. This is almost unheard of in Italy. Plus, wages are so low and it almost doesn't matter what you do - your salary will, more than likely, be sub-par. Many people shared with us that even if they studied for years at university, excelled, and received a degree, that they could still work retail at the newspaper stand and make generally the same amount.
But, they eat well, seem to enjoy a slower and rich way of living, and have some of the most beautiful and historic places on earth :)
Seriously, we did hear a report like this on the Italian radio once saying how many things were wrong with the government, economics, and labor issues...but they had to find the things to be enjoyed and proud of - like food, richness of life, and landscapes. There is something, for sure, that drew (and still draws) us to the bel paese, but I'm very thankful to have opportunity in our lives being American...and the option to share our lives with two homes.