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Photo by Joël in 't Veld on Unsplash

Dear America, I Miss You

A letter from a Frenchman to an old friend who lost their way

My Dearest America,

Where have you been these past four years? What happened to you? I know you’re still here physically, but you’re a shell of your former self. You’re like empty black eyes staring at a candle flame: alight, but not alive.

I had witnessed you be amazing in 2008. In one night, it felt like you overcame centuries of unjust and unrepaired suffering. It appeared to be a new beginning, a second 1776 where men would be created equal and live equal lives and benefit from equal opportunities.

Of course, not everything was perfect, and the years between 2008 and 2016 revealed many cracks in your shining lacquer, but my love for you was unchanged. I believed in your institutions, I believed in your people and, more importantly, I believed in what you stood for.

You’ve always meant a great deal to me, America. You were a dream I was inspired by, an ideal I aspired towards.

I know everything about you, your history, your politics, your legal system. I know you better than I know my own country because you made me care for you. Movies, books, art, music, TV shows, and the culture you spread worldwide, the innovations you bring us, all this makes us love you, made me love you.

Deeper than this, our nations’ destinies have always been intertwined. You and my country have been close friends for centuries and, by extension, our peoples were friends too.

France helped give birth to you, America. We were there at the start. When you took your first steps, we held your hand. Together, our countries spilt blood in defence of the idea that all men and women are created equal. We fought so that democracy would prevail in the face of tyranny, not once, but many times.

We stood alongside each other in the trenches of what we believed would be the “Great War” of the century. Thirty years later, you stormed our beaches and liberated us from evil.

You must know, America, that these are not old fading memories to many of my compatriots and me. The sacrifices you made to save us, the thousands of young lives that were lost so that we may live in peace, they mean the world to us, they sure mean it to me.

I grew up admiring you, America. Yes, the picture I had of you was certainly too rosy. It ignored many of your failings, but as we say, l’amour rend aveugle, love makes us blind.

2016 gave me my sight back.

What were you thinking, America? What’s wrong with you? Were you like this all along, was I misled into loving you? How could you ever elect such a vile and evil man, how could you choose such a steamy pile of dirt to be your leader, to represent you on the world stage?

I have not forgiven you, America, and I don’t know that I ever will be able to. You created a dream in me, nurtured it, and then shattered it beyond repair. In doing so, you robbed me of a part of myself, and I am convinced I’m not the only one to feel this way.

But in the grand scheme of things, my feelings don’t matter. I’m just a sad man who’s lost an old friend. What matters, though, is that you betrayed yourself, your people, and, more importantly, you betrayed what you stand for. You sold your soul to the devil. You opened Pandora’s box, and I fear the daemons you’ve let out will haunt you for a long time.

Thankfully, you corrected your course in 2020, but you didn’t right the wrong. You fixed a symptom, but you failed to address the disease.

I’m still hopeful, America. I want to believe in you for your people’s sake. They deserve better than what you’ve given them these past years. I want to believe in you because the values you stand for matter more than ever in today’s world: democracy, equality, innovation, we need all of these if we’re to tackle the challenges ahead of us.

Selfishly, I want to believe in you because I miss you, and I want my friend back.

Come back to us, America. Please.

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