George Takei: Why I love a country that once betrayed me


george takei

 

Let’s say you are a citizen of country A, born, raised, and educated there with all that country’s beliefs and values, but your ancestral origin is from another one, say, country B. Your physical features, your face, your appearance, all of which are precisely those of people living in the latter.

Let’s say that country A and country B are involved in a diplomatic crisis, a conflict, or worse, a war. Your family wants to move, but they can hardly decide what may be a better decision. In case they stay, it is very likely that either the government of country A, or the public majority, will label you as ‘enemies’, ‘aliens’, ‘non-citizens’, and will even resort to all measures, no matter how extreme, to eliminate you, despite your innocence and your having no political connection to the latter. On the other hand, moving back to your ‘ancestral homeland’ is hardly a good notion, though. Citizens, or government there, may very possibly dub you as ‘enemies from country A’, ‘vermin’, ‘national traitors’, or what have you. You can hardly speak their language, despite your exact body features. You are rejected, and being pigeonholed, by the two countries. You don’t know where to move. And you don’t know what to do.

Numberless minorities over this world, for all the eons, have been faced with such dilemma. Chinese in Southeast Asian countries, Asians in the United States, Whites, Asians, and Arabs in some parts of Africa and elsewhere, and even minorities in Europe, they are just a handful of examples that illustrate such phenomenon. Identity crisis oftentimes becomes inevitable. But we know we can barely make a choice. Whatever that happens, we must accept and fight against that label, that prejudice that sticks over us for a lifetime.

George Takei, a Japanese-American actor, and also a proud gay, shares his experiences of being interred during World War II, and the subsequent, long and uneasy, processes that made him eventually love America as it is, despite all the pains it had incurred towards his family. Watch his inspiring talk below. May this talk be an inspiration to all of us.

 

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