I learned this in the Philippines. There really are only 2 kinds of Americans in foreign countries. There are no middle ones; either they are good or bad. Average Americans stay home or maybe take a 2 week tour on a sanitized guide plan from a major company which means they don’t ever see the “real” country, and perhaps do not care to.
In the Philippines there were many ex-pats from a variety of democratic nations. Along side of the generous numbers of missionaries and teachers, military people and officials, were the flotsam and jetsam of Western society who had a trailer of errors behind them, bad manners, bad marriages, even police records –and they opened up bars and brothels, traded under the table in guns, women and drugs, and just generally gave Americans a bad name. I was unable to find any ordinary people.
I also did find some good people who were in a foreign land because they were avoiding something else – like work. One young missionary spent a good bit of time in front of the TV. This was a bit disconcerting, like Good Morning America at 7 at night, but they had a mission in life – live off someone else. Lordy – they could do that at home!! But of course not without being seen doing it.
This week I read the smarmy testimony of a foot loose 52-year old American who has been living a lecherous life in China – says he is coming home. Please don’t. We have enough wastrels and sex addicts in the USA without you adding to this. On the other hand, I really like China and think perhaps it a disservice to them to have him there. I am conflicted. Maybe you could go to Syria instead? You have a beard – maybe you could pass for a Muslim.
If you get to be 52 and have no morals, no rudder, and no purpose in life – what good are you? This is a pretty good question even if you aren’t 52.
One of my oldest and most enduring memories of Makati (Philippines) is when we were hopelessly stuck in traffic – this happened often – and I saw a very wealthy, well-known older man who was a big hotel-brothel-gambling den owner walking across the street. There was a very distinct look on his face – one of complete resignation to his awful end.
We sat so long stalled in traffic the taxi driver mentioned him too. I thought, there goes a man who knows he is going to hell. No, I was not sad for him – I was sad for Manila, and all the people who might think he was an average American. My nation does not need ex-pats like that.