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What I am writing is not about politics. It is not advocating for a certain political view. You all have a right to whatever political beliefs you have and you can and should vote for whatever candidates that make sense to you….I say this up front because I don’t want to say anything that turns LIP into a political forum. It’s not for me, and it shouldn’t be.

I worry about my home country, the US of A. Of course what’s in “the news” isn’t reality; it is a selective reality. You choose to focus on certain things and leave others out. And in a world where you have to fill news reports 24 hours a day, what gets reported is often extreme.

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That being said, the country of my birth looks really weird from overseas. It’s been going on for some time. The US is hopelessly split in a very complex debate, even battle, about lifestyle and philosophy that began more than 50 years ago. It makes me sad because I don’t see any way out.

The lifestyle/life philosophy/culture wars in the USA that became apparent during the Vietnam War still continue 50 years later and they will be here 50 years from now. In the Vietnam War Era, in which many of you played a part, and most of us lived through, there was no middle ground. You had to be a Hawk or a Dove; you had to be Left or you had to be Right. Modern day America is hopelessly split about what life should be, what is right and what is wrong and who should be blamed for everything that personally frustrates us.

It’s easier in a place where there is essentially one race or one culture. The Philippines is more like this, although Filipino author F. Sionel Jose says that one of the reasons Filipinos have a problem uniting as “Filipinos” is that they are a tribal people of many different cultures and languages.

The US is a very pluralistic society. When you travel to Italy, most of the people there look similarly Italian; it is the same in Spain or Germany. But not in the USA, especially on the coasts where I am from. The US used to be called a Melting Pot, but I think it’s more like a Caesar Salad. The ingredients, the different peoples, all stay separate.

Because of this, we are a culture that is ungrounded by any common philosophical, lifestyle or spiritual beliefs. There seems to be more hate than ever for those who differ with whatever our beliefs happen to be. There are so many fine things about US culture, but this really is also true.

When I was young, a post-WWII baby boomer, the US was a beacon of light in so many ways. Other countries wanted to be like us, not only economically, but culturally and behaviorally too. The US was a world leader in so many categories that are important to the well- being of peoples’ lives. Education, health, longevity. In these areas at least, we are not in the Top 10 or even the Top 20 anymore. There was always the American Dream, that through your hard work and effort you could improve your life, even change the roots that you came from; that belief still exists. But one of the sad realities of this is that the American Dream is not equally available to everyone. It favors some and not others. It is still a worthy goal; an idea worth protecting.

This is all very complex in a society of 350 million people. I have no solutions, just emotions, and sadness.

And then there’s the news and what you hear and see about life in the US and the conflict about seemingly everything; the anger and the hate. It makes me shake my head.

I wonder how many of us who have moved overseas, have this turmoil as a factor in their decision to do so. That “Home” just doesn’t slip on like that comfortable pair of pants it once was; some of us are simply looking for peace in the valley. Peace in our lives, free from turmoil.

I wonder.

My life here in the Philippines is not intense politically or subject to social conflicts and events. There are those here in The Philippines, but they belong to the Filipino people, mostly. My life in an “Evening News” way is pretty peaceful. The conflicts I get to live through come from my Filipina wife’s family who seem to be always fighting with one another. It is easier for me to be aloof; there is no Evening News about this.

One of the things many of us who have lived in different places in the world have discovered is that people are more the same than they are different. We human beings, of every culture, wrestle with the same problems and emotions, the same worries, sadness, and joys. “Same Same,” as we say here.

So as we enter the Holiday Season, whatever holidays you celebrate and honor, I wish my home country, the USA, some Peace. Some“Peace in the Valley” as my Dad used to say. A retraction of our claws about everyone and everything. A Prayer for the US. A Prayer for the Philippines and a Prayer for our World.

A different kind of “Evening News.”

Posted in

Rob Ashley

After travelling to the Philippines and SE Asia perhaps 15 times between 2007-2011, I decided to retire in Cebu and moved here in August 2011. Things changed fast. A month after I was here I met my wife Rachel; In 6 months I decided I was bored after having taught high school English and in a graduate school of education at a Portland, Oregon university for 30+ years; I looked around; I was hired as the Head of the English Department at a Cebu international school. Rachel and I got married; we bought a condo in Cebu City; we got two cats. After 3 years here I was offered a similar position at a Japanese international school, so we went to Japan. After two years there I was offered another position of Coordinator of Languages at a Vienna, Austria international school. Living in Europe was nice, but Rachel said, “It’s too cold here.” So, finally last August, we returned to Cebu for good, and I really am retired. I have learned that you pretty much take your life with you wherever you go. I have a PhD from the University of Oregon and I’m a diehard Oregon Ducks fan. Likewise an NBA Portland Trailblazers fan, so I am often up at 3 am on Sundays or Mondays to watch football and basketball games. Cebu is home now and many thanks to Bob Martin for LIP and the services and opportunities he offers us Expats.

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Cordillera CowboyRob AshleyJohn ReyesRichard Kevin CorbeilMike Williams Recent comment authors
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Mike
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Mike

A very well written and thoughtful article. Like you I am also deeply saddened and concerned about how the USA seems to be so severely divided into two camps. Each side blames the other for any and all social ills that most any society will face. After living five years in the Philippines I wonder if I would feel like an outcast or stranger if I were to visit my homeland? My hope is that there is a “quiet” majority that will at some point begin to elect politicians with a more centrist view.

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Mike: Thank you for your comment. I had the experience at teaching in a European school (Vienna Austria) with teachers from 25 different countries, literally all over the world. I was the only American. It really saddened me to hear how people, and these are educated people, are talking about the USA, when in the past it was filled with respect and admiration. I like it the way it was in my memory. I don’t really see any way out of this terrible divide because it not only has to do with politics, but life style-culture stuff. I just feel… Read more »

Chris
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Chris

Good article Rob. The thing about the news in the U.S. is that it has become increasingly entertainment for ratings rather than actual news that we can rely on to stay informed. Good news doesn’t sell, but bad news, controversy and conflict do sell. Things are not as bad here nor as contentious as what we often read. It seems that this past month or two leading up to the mid-term elections has taken a particularly negative tone.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Chris: Thank you for the reminder. I do know what you say is true. When I go to LA or Portland to visit my son and daughter, I hardly see people killing each other on the streets…it’s pretty much life as usual in the day to day. I think the phenomena of being about to sit in a dark room with a flickering computer screen and keyboard allows people to say things they wouldn’t otherwise. The news is not reality, and anyway, I always liked what Paul Simon said, “I get all the news I need from the weather report.”… Read more »

David Haldane
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David Haldane

Hey Rob, very good article; thoughtful and thought-provoking. I largely share your view — and your sadness — about what’s going on in America. I have never seen the country this divided, even during Vietnam. What’s really scary for me is seeing people I’ve known for years, people I know to be otherwise thoughtful and rational human beings, suddenly jump on one of these bandwagons of hate. This was definitely a factor in our decision to move to the Philippines.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

David: I know about watching people jump on one bandwagon or the other. In many ways I think it is a product of the internet or at least it fans the flames. I read yahoo (that prestigious news service) and the Comments underneath articles. Man…such hate and intolerance. People willing to take pretty complex situations and in 25 words or less explain who should be drawn and quartered for…whatever. Absolute vitriol in 80% of the posts. I remember my Mother telling me long ago, “Robert…don’t bring hate into your life; it’s a fool’s way that will only hurt you in… Read more »

Ken Williams
Guest

Living in the Philippines. New for newcomers. Is always referring to the US in all your articles as if only expats come from there.I am Australia 🇦🇺.and Lapu Lapu.city and Cebu.Have a big population of ex pats. Would it not be bettered if you could refer to overseas ex pats. Instead of everything U.S. I am a gentleman of 75 and moved here from Malta where I had been living for a few years. I read all the articles.and find them informative. No afence ment. Only making a point. K.G. Williams.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Ken: No offense taken. I guess I write what I know about but never with the view that the US is the center of the universe or where expats are from. Other than a former Aussie colleague, I know nothing about your country. Quite frankly, most of the expats I have met here are not from the US. So point well taken but my writing will probably reflect my very American experience, sad as that may be. I do hope you continue to read what I write and thank you. -Rob

LSD
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LSD

Rob, Well said! We have lived through some Historic times, If some things don’t change, I’m afraid the result will be massive hatred and senseless bloodshed on our home soil. I too have worked many places throughout the USA and World and am saddened by the worlds views of America. We must do better. I try to project the best qualities wherever I go, (even if I am a bit opinionated) The things that I have witnessed and you mention, are exactly what makes the Republic of the Philippines so appealing to me. SD P.S. Does anyone know why I… Read more »

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

LSD: I know what you say. I liked it better when people said “nice” stuff about the US. I guess that’s just human nature. The country is still among the first to respond to human disasters such as the typhoons in The Philippines. I am glad about that. The fact is that Americans are a diverse group and we all don’t speak with the same voice. Be well, Rob

Art
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Art

Rob, I agree with your assement in it’s entirety and I suppose to a large degree the schism is not healable. But more than that driving my departure from the US is the simple desire to be left the hell alone. Somthing no political party in the US seems able to accomplish. Everyone wants their view imposed on everyone else. In very general terms, the Philippines, thankfully in this case, lacks the sort of central authority with the power or will to impose the wishes of one group on another. A lot of the problems evident in the US would… Read more »

Rob Ashley
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Rob Ashley

Art: “The simple desire to be left the hell alone.” I know what you say.I do get hundreds of emails from the political party of my choice, always asking for a donation. They could go away forever. Thanks Art

Paul
Guest
Paul

I moved from America near five years ago because of the horrible direction of what was once a great nation. I have seen so few things positive since I left and at this time I have no desire to return.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Paul: I understand the pain. Rob

Mike Williams
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Mike Williams

Other commenters have successfully held their tongues, so I will as well. I would point out that despite all the problems dividing the U.S, a good portion of the world still wants to live there and still expects the U.S. to lead. Those who wish to focus on today’s negatives often forget that the U.S. has navigated worse times in the past. Does anyone remember 1941-45, the 60’s, or even 2008? In recent years I have split my time between the U.S. and the Philippines. I still enjoy both.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Hi Mike: I in no way meant to say disparaging things about the US…only my sadness at how the country gets portrayed to the rest of the world.I too enjoy my trips “Home” and I pray for only the best for her. -Rob

Richard Kevin Corbeil
Guest

Bob I find myself with very similar feelings. It is getting so bad in some places that violence has broken out. Currently I live one month on one month off between Phil and Alaska but plan to retire in Phil when I finally do retire. When I am there I am almost stress free and when here I have to avoid watching the news because of all the strife that we see these days. I worry for my home nation, the push and pull from the two sides is tearing it apart.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Richard: I have been thinking of my life here in the Philippines and quite frankly, I have very little stress; part of it is the fact that I am no longer working, but is also that things are pretty easy here. The systems do work and I feel welcome and liked. That’s good, eh? Rob

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

In my book, bailing out of the USA when the country is in trouble is un-American. But, first of all, is the USA in trouble? I believe dissent and division in government and on the streets are characteristics of a progressive society, as opposed to a docile, pliable one. Checks and balances have been the hallmarks of our tripartite form of government since the birth of our nation. They have made this nation great and the envy of the world since post WWII. Without them, we would be like mindless lemmings subject to the whims and desires of a tyrant.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

John: Well said. I also would rather not have a docile and pliable society. The checks and balances system does work…just so much anger and hate being expressed. I asked my Filipino friends why you don’t see people being flipped off by other drivers here as is common in the US. The said, “Filipinos wouldn’t do that.” Hmm. I’ve thought about that. Rob

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