A born and raised red-blooded American I am, and as most Americans, I grew up loving my country, and I still do. The eldest of 6 siblings, I grew up first, and was undoubtedly the designated test-bed child. In larger families, the first-born is usually and specifically designed for the initial research, development, testing and evaluation of all future parenting rules, for all the subsequent siblings to follow. I was the victim of strict 1950’s childhood parenting rules, as adopted by society, and implemented by the parents. I’m sure all my younger siblings made accurate visual observations and logged complete mental notes. I know they all took heed with respect to my trials and tribulations as they followed me through the ’60s and into the ’70s. They learned from my experiences and mistakes, what to expect, what not to do, how to act, and how to manipulate the parenting system in general. Growing up may have been easier for them as society progressed, liberally transforming itself with greater freedoms, liberties, and tolerance of change. As traditional American culture made its exodus from the respectful ’50s into the radical anti-establishment ’60s and ultimately, into the rebellious ’70s, I witnessed the direct benefit to my youngest siblings and share this simple example; I sported a crew-cut (and not by choice) when the Beatles were hip, while my youngest two brothers were granted the greatest of all teenage liberties and were allowed to grow their hair long in high school. Maybe my parents were getting soft?
These days, not many people will deny that the cultural leftward turn of the ’60s and ’70s has been far graver than is supposed. Hindsight is clearly a witness to the fateful collapse of critical and moral standards over the last 30+ years or so, at least by those who may be middle-aged and older. Whether it is accepted as a good thing or bad, these days, it tends to be measured by one’s own personal perception of change and how it affects their own liberties and lifestyles.
By the time my wife first arrived from the Philippines to the U.S. in 1986, some would attest that the cultural revolution and counter-culture of the ’60s had become fully ratified and adopted. Modern society had become tolerable to a pace of moral corruption that today it still seems to continuously perpetuate itself. However one perceives their culture, highlighted family decline in America and the inherent problems that accompany this decline, is becoming significantly noticeable in all aspects of society. Many personal behavioral traits that would have been admonishable years ago are considered totally acceptable today. “To each his own” is a common idiom these days.
Not everyone may agree with my personal outlook on where society might be headed, but know that we are each entitled to the perception of our own reality. Personally, I really don’t care much for where my sober thoughts about a changing American society lead me. I’m not a doomsday prepper or a conspiracy theorist and I’m not a fear monger. I am more of a realist and, like many people in my age group, have learned that America is no longer ‘the land of the free’ – and many are seeking out other places to live and retire. While America is often described as “the richest nation in the world,” the reality is that the U.S. is the most indebted nation on earth. We all recently witnessed, and many still suffer from, the mortgage lending debacle and the collapse of the housing market (bubble) which nearly pushed America into a Great Recession and to the edge of an economic depression. The other looming ‘bubble’ is America’s debt – on both government and personal levels. The living standards in the U.S. are considered the best in the world – but are they real or borrowed? One thing is undeniably certain – the living standards in America are changing. We personally feel we will never in our lifetime see a move toward any significant improvement of current economic conditions, let alone morality, as a whole.
Today’s society is altogether under different pressures than when I grew up and a new set of rules are evolving. Some of the challenges, as viewed by many Americans today, are the same issues that plague other western nations. Income inequality or the gap between the rich and poor is widening. In America, immigration is viewed as a very large concern with no fix in sight. Poverty and homelessness is on the rise and dependency on the government for sustenance is growing. Ethics and morals are declining. The family on a whole is also in decline. And nobody should deny that education is way off track. The Federal debt is looming large. There is widespread dissatisfaction with our government and the politics therein, along with increasing corruption and abuses of power. Foreign policy is a disaster and international terrorism is growing. Add to all that the real concerns surrounding the arrival of domestic terrorism to our shores. Our freedoms and liberties at home are under attack and disappearing. And one of the most noted problems with our country today continues to be the jobs picture. For the older generations, the retirement outlook for many hard-working westerners is bleak.
Well…at this point, any further ranting can only lead to an imposition of political points of view, and that is not the intent of this post. So, I will jump off my soap box and get back to what my mature adult inner voice prescribes to me – that what is really important to both my wife and I – the enjoyment of life, family and quality of culture. We opted for change and the easiest way for us to accomplish that change was to simply leave (Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen) the country. It’s that simple. A more simple and less demanding lifestyle was calling out to us.
Our decision to locate to the Philippines was made for our own personal embetterment (a word George Bush invented) and a return to a more relaxed style of living, with far fewer complexities. The decision to remove ourselves from the every day grind of American life was a logically planned choice and a calculated decision. We came to a solid conclusion that if we reduced our expectations and remained flexible about our experiences and dealings with the unknown and unexpected, we will more than be able to satisfy our needs and desires. Our unwavering determination has now been proven that the grass is certainly greener on this side of ‘Big Blue’ (Pacific Ocean)…for us anyway.
The bottom line and the decision to Expatriate allows us to live our life with fewer expectations and less stress. We have planned for the best and worst that the Philippines has to offer, but nothing beats living with a loving caring family, surrounded by proud and appreciative people in a warm, tropical island environment. With all that life has to offer, and with all uncertainties aside, we are now fully living our lives to the fullest.
Note: Expatriation does not necessarily mean renouncing one’s citizenship. One should check on their desired destination country to determine that country’s immigration requirements as a prerequisite to making any decision to expatriate or locate outside their homeland.
This article was originally written in Nov 2012, and has been reviewed and updated to reflect our same, but current viewpoints, from a past tense perspective.