American gun policies and politics… These are the subjects I’m strategically mute when overseas, with locals and other foreigners.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”     -Winston Churchill

I am an American. I am a patriot. I love my country. I’ve given irrevocable chunks of life to her with no regret.

But make no mistake, I don’t believe it’s the “best” country in the world, far from it, but it is MY country.

This is a difficult concept to shed for any born and bred American with no experience of the rest of the world.

The more you know other nations, different cultures and conflicting ideals, the more you can judge and understand your own country, values and methods.

We Americans carry a stigma that’s universally notorious, even to the many peoples of nations that ironically come to America for the “American Dream”.

This social stigma is nothing new although it only strengthens as does the reach of media.

I’ve experienced this badge of disapproval first hand in so many countries with the locals and other foreigners almost as many times I’ve made friends with them.

So it’s hardly (or at least very rarely) about antagonistic discrimination, actual hate or racism.

But the American stigma is real.

It’s usually in good fun or for a good debate but sometimes it’s annoying and senseless. And it always comes down to the generalization of the American obsession with guns and abominable politics.

Early in my vagabonding lifestyle, I would always speak out, fiercely but logically in defense of America.

But every conversation became argumentative, even combative and always unpleasant. It was about who’s wrong (USA) and who’s right but rarely about what’s right. Who’s to blame (USA) and who’s the victim.

Debates turned into shouting matches and the almost always outnumbered Americans within any given group suddenly became Bush disciples.

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”     -Robert Frost

Now when the topic of the United States concerning anything political or firearm related come up among friends or strangers, I sit silently and listen carefully.

In my experience, it’s these two topics that get people the most riled up in group discussions, showing their true colors while attempting to retain decorum.

Body calm and mind clear, it’s in these moments I can learn about not just the people of different nationalities but people in general. By not being personally or judgmentally vested, I can pay attention to what others have to say and what they really feel.

It gives me an insight to what and how they think.

In the long run, this social strategy makes me a better judge of character and a more articulate communicator.

In the short run, if I feel like it…



Effectively ending and winning the debate.

This is one of the most powerful positions you can have among a social gathering / discussion / event.

Being mysterious and being not understood, not to be confused with misunderstood – the wildcard.

“Stealth cognizance is a means to have more control over another by showing less direction, being in a stronger position by appearing weaker than you actually are and taking everything in before acting.”     -John Cain

I’d much rather converse about life, philosophy, women, travel, and the Yankees.

[The featured photo was taken in Istanbul, Turkey.]

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  1. Lori Zabel Reply

    As an American, I approve of this message! But seriously, i to have met with this stigma, particularly in France. They LOOOVE to trash on Americans. Bt like you said, usually for fun.

  2. Robert SythRZythRZ Reply

    So this is why Canadians wear their flag as patches on their backpacks so much, to not be mistaken as American. That’s pretty funny and sad and messed up but really funny.

    • Specialist Zero Reply

      and I’ve even met some Americans who say they’re canadians to avoid being hassled. weird.

  3. okokokok, i admit. we like to rag on Americans whenever they come to us for the couchsurfing. but just to break the ice.

  4. I wager that TRUMP is exponentially increasing the American stigma. He gives Americans a bad name and makes terrorists look good.

    • Joel Gaxom Reply

      Yup, it’ll be particularly be bad to be American if Trump is elected, got my trigger finger on moving to Canada if this douche does become it.

  5. J Maitland Reply

    As I spent the past several weeks as an american abroad in central america, this scenario inevitably occurred a time or two. Having worked in many conflict areas of the world, I provided the somewhat lengthy education on our international security system. They were always surprised to learn of how America’s revolutionary dilemma, roles in large conflicts, etc created a causal relationship to their specialization of securing civil liberties through force. In the larger system, other countries directly and indirectly benefit. Sometimes not needing any more force in the world than their own policing.
    Often travelers from beneficiary nations who were most removed from those historical elements found themselves questioning their original perspectives, at least. Mastery of global history presents as stealthy as any other social maneuver.

  6. Tony Mitchell Reply

    Yes sir! Coming here to China a lot over the years for work. I have had the same things happen to me. I once was asked by this old Austrian gentleman about why I feel as an American I need to own guns.. It was out of the blue and took me off guard. Well, I was not political and I did not keep my mouth shut. That was years ago. Now, I do the same as you stated. I am silent, and I listen and don’t give any feedback. Unless it’s my British friends giving me crap. Then I just tell them to get over it, they lost the war twice and they need to put it in a bubble and blow it away. 🙂 They usually have a good laugh.
    I am also a Patriot and proud of my country. We are not the best country in the world, but it is my country and I have given service to my country like my forefathers have.

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