Life in Poland Po prostu Chris

Don’t Like It? Leave The Country


Things have been heated lately in politics, and when I say lately, I mean today, yesterday and since the beginning of time. Comments turn into conversations, conversations into debates, and debates into fights – fights that end friendships, alienate co-workers, and strain family relations. It’s all fun and games until somebody tells you to leave the country, right? I mean it’s not a proper political discussion until somebody says – Don’t like it? So why don’t you just leave?

Leave the Country

How many times have I heard that? Too many to count over the years, and while it has ramped up in the current political climate as they say, people have been telling people to get out if you don’t like it forever. I have been on the receiving end of this on several occasions in Poland where I live and in America where I come from. Perhaps you have too.

An invitation to leave the country? Don’t do it, please. I know things can get heated, but please don’t invite people to move, to leave the country. Or to move to Canada. And don’t say you are going to move to Canada unless you are in fact planning a move to Canada. Canada doesn’t want us anyway.

Please don’t do it. It’s so divisive. No dialogue can happen after that. It is hurtful. It might feel good to say it, but it’s like a punch in the gut on the receiving end. It makes me want to put as much distance between us as I can. It makes me want to to cry and to fight all at once.

An Open Invitation

It’s not like people don’t move. People do move. They don’t need an invitation to do it. They change countries all the time. People who are unsatisfied with their government or are hurt in their country, their rights are not protected, or they are persecuted. They do move. They move if they are able.

I moved to another country – from the United States to Poland, but I moved for fun and adventure and for work. It’s a luxury to move for fun. It’s a luxury to want to move and be able to find a country willing to take you.

I Love My Countries

Working to make changes in your country doesn’t you mean you hate that country, but that you love it. You want it to be the best and live up to its ideals. When I protested in the streets in Poland or pressured my children’s Polish school to respect our rights, I did it out of a love for Poland and its constitution which protects me, an immigrant, and my Polish-born children. Did the school principal suggest we might be happier if we went “home’? Yes she did because it is easier to eliminate those people in our lives that we don’t agree with, to unfriend them out of existence at least for now. It was easier for her to suggest we leave for our “own good” than to uphold the constitution and extend its rights to all the children under her care.

True Americans

It’s a dangerous and slippery slope to declare in such terms who is worthy of being called a true American, or a true Pole, or German, or whatever, and the rest of you be damned. You voted for the winning candidate? Great. You are probably pretty happy then. You are a real, true American. Voted for losing candidate? Super. You are a real and true American too. Flipped a coin? Guess what, you too are still American. I’d never invite any of you to leave the country because of your vote nor because of your dissatisfaction with mine.

Don’t like it? Act!

What I find mind-boggling at the moment is that some folks from the losing side are still extending leave-the-country invitations to the winning side – if they don’t like it. Their candidate was sworn in. What’s not for them to like? Regardless of sides, I’d never invite anyone to leave. The invitation I would extend hasn’t changed since I was 16, got my driver’s license, and bought my first bumper sticker which read – “Think Global. Act Local”.

If you don’t like what is going on around you, I invite you to do the following:

  • vote
  • read and research
  • write
  • volunteer
  • canvass
  • make calls, send postcards
  • work with your local institutions and representatives
  • engage with people
  • donate funds
  • and more

And if you already do these things, I thank you. I know it is not an easy path to follow. Don’t give up. Sure, be sad, be disheartened, but don’t despair, don’t dismiss, don’t gloat, and don’t belittle. Do more than invite “those people” to go away because those people are your people and my people. They are our people, whether we like it or not.

PS I know I got a little preachy there, so please forgive me.

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  • Reply
    Sarah A. Atkins
    January 21, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    What a great message, Chris. Your thoughts mirror my thoughts exactly.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you. I am glad we can see eye to eye on that.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    What can I say. I’m a Pole, who had lots of hard feelings against Poland and – because of it – left the country almost ten years ago. When I tell people “you should leave the country”, I tell it to my Polish friends who still live in Poland, not my enemies (and just because I wish my friends the very best). So there’s also this situation 😉
    But jokes aside. I support your message. I’m an expat in my (not so) new home and even though I love my new country much more than the old one, I see things here which I don’t like. And I’m trying to change them. Surely if someone would tell me “go home”, these would be very cruel words, because my home is here. So I have chosen.
    And it’s about this right. The right to choose.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      I hadn’t even thought about a situation such as yours when I wrote that. Yes, the intention is very important and yours are pure 😉 I am glad that you were able to choose where you want to live and that your find yourself well in your new home. I have no doubts that you it’s a better place with you there…even though Poland misses you…I’m sure your friends and family tell you that.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Chris. Thank you for coming back.
    I agree with you, but frankly, it is difficult road to take. Because it’s so much easier to hate. It gives so much energy.

    • Reply
      January 25, 2021 at 10:17 am

      Thanks Agniecha for the welcome. I really missed it.

      It is the difficult road to take, you are correct in saying that. I am guilty too of cutting people out of my everyday life, and I have been cut out of some people’s lives. It’s not a nice feeling. I decided to make a change, not because I believe I can convince somebody, but to use my energy in a positive way. I have watched my friends become more and more active in their communities, and I am so proud of everything they do. Hate certainly spawns more hate and I want to have no part in that if I can avoid it.

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