“You Americans,” he let the statement linger. I wasn’t sure how to react. I was unsure what Americans he was referring to. Was he referring to the calloused, wrinkled, and mostly white men that represent our country in the international stage? Or was it the section of our citizens that were obsessed with famous people and pop culture? It could have been the immigrants who started anew in our country after leaving everything behind.
From the context, I believe it to be the old men of Washington that he was referring to. As it was, we were talking about our foreign policy. I found it funny, that he would choose to generalize a whole country based on the decisions of a few. Although, when I really think about it, they represent the millions of people through elections. Is it fair to do that?
That’s a question that I’ll leave for another time and place. I wanted to reply and say, “you Ugandans.” I would have left it open just as he chose to. I would imply that the few who lead the nation reflected the view point of everyone. I wish I had courage to do so. In the end, I didn’t of course. I was an apologetic American.
I don’t want to get that confused with an ashamed American. I think there’s a huge difference between apologetic and ashamed. First off, I am not ashamed for anything we have done. There are things that I disagree with, but to be ashamed, in my opinion means I take ownership in the actions. When, in fact, I chose the opposite actions, in some cases.
I guess, I’m getting off topic a little bit. Back to the present conversation.
“You Americans,” he let the statement linger, “have no concept of what is real. All that you have done is taken what you believe to be yours and let the rest of the world suffer to face the by products of whatever your choice was. You see our leader?” Now he’s pointing at a political campaign poster plastered alongside the road. “He,” still pointing at the poster, “is just a puppet to your government. You neglect to observe or acknowledge the true crimes he has committed. Why?”
He used another dramatic pause to make the point. I’m still not sure whether or not I should actually give a reply. The response he is looking for is pretty obvious. I’m not sure, whether to even play into it. I look at him, with an attempt, of steadfast. It’s never a good idea to appear to be uncomfortable. So, I’ll look at him directly in the eyes and wait. Silence is one of the most powerful tools in an argument. People will either think that they stumped you, which is when you give a slight smile, or they are fearful of what your true thoughts are.
“I’ll tell you why,” he follows with a smile. He believes he has my attention. That he is teaching me something that I don’t already know. “It’s because, he does what they want first, and how he does it, is not important. The true problem is what your government wants. If you did not exist, neither would he. That is the true root to our problems in this country.”
I wait for him to finish. It was, in the end, the response, that I had thought. For dramatic effect, I like to take a moment. Let what he said sink in. For both myself and himself. Most people want to be heard. Respected. I can give him that. He deserves at least that.
“What happens if we decide he is no longer useful in power?” I am never going to agree or disagree. Continue the conversation. That’s what is most important. Just continue the conversation.
“You kill him, or let us kill him. Then you corrupt or put in place a new puppet. That is all that is left. A cyclical movement of pawns to the US government.” He shakes his head in disbelief. “We have no more hope.”
“Do you hate me?” I kept my words steady and left little or no emotion in them. It was a very simple question.
“Do I hate you? That’s a good question. I barely know you. Yet, this conversation, today, when I met you. I hated you at first site. I did not talk to you, but I hated you. Now, I’m not sure. How can I hate you? You are a person. Human. You breathe the same way I do. You hurt the same way I do. How can I hate someone the same as myself? Yet, you’re American. You.” He stopped himself. “Your government,” he corrected himself, “I hate. I can not say whether or not I hate you. I’ll leave that to time.”