In the Family of Things

I left reluctantly, as all of us do.

Not because we have been indoctrinated with nationalistic fervour, but rather because we have not.
No national anthems before school,
No history lessons of our recent glorious past,
No political youth clubs.
Just silence.
And into the silence bled exclusion.
Rejection based on race, ethnicity, age, religion, culture – the Lord giveth and the government taketh away.

So our patriotism is an anomaly – born in defiance of narrow-minded nationalism and strengthened with each snip of the segregation scissors.
We stay;
we survive;
we flourish as an affront to the land that rejects us.

We have no title deeds for this house of stone, but we remain. Squatters in our own home.

So when it comes time to leave, it is with a sad reluctance that we depart. Excitement about new possibilities always tempered by the guilt of our exit and our plans for return.

Some cannot come back, some never will and no one says it out loud, but some relationships will not last through the absence. For the long-suffering, the diaspora is a form of surrender. For the migrant…relief.

But we find ourselves thinking of home with longing and feeling that in our 1st world vanilla ice cream existence we have somehow failed. Our easy choice must be justified. To survive is not enough; surely we must suffer to bring about change? And our hearts are heavy in the realisation of it because our legs are heavy on the return.

So here we sit, caught in a Catch 22 of our own making.
Filled with a nationalism of our own invention.
Driven by a determination that does us no favours.
Seeking a reason we can’t find home.

Meanwhile, as the poet says, the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of rain
Are moving across the landscapes
Over the prairies and the deep trees
The mountains and rivers

And if we could only believe that
We do not have to be good
Or walk on our knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

We might notice the world offering itself to our imagination
And hear it calling to us like wild geese
Announcing over and over, that
Whoever we are, no matter how lonely
We have always had a place
in the family of things.

This is my experience, my family.