4 July 2011

Independence Day

So today is American Independence Day, and for me it has an unusual meaning this year. For in two short weeks I’ll be renouncing my American citizenship.
In no way has this been an easy decision, growing up I was taught that citizenship was the most valuable asset you could hold. It offered you the freedom to live and work in a country, without needing to jump through hundreds of bureaucratic hoops. But the responsibilities of American citizenship weigh heavy, and now that I look to start a family I don’t want to pass those responsibilities on.
It was only when I became pregnant I discovered that our child, if a boy, would have to register with the Selective Service System – which provides names for the US Military Draft. This completely conflicts with my Quaker beliefs. I’ve had people suggest that there will never be another US Draft or that my children can claim conscientious objector status, but this feels like a rationalisation. I do not support war and I cannot sign up to such a process simply because I don’t think it will affect me. Instead I’ll have to make a stand for my beliefs, though others may not understand.
I’m not sure how I missed this facet of American citizenship; I was living in the States when I turned 18. I can only assume that my male friends at the time didn’t think it was important enough to mention. I rang my mother soon after discovering this unpleasant complication and she replied “Oh I know, we’d have never moved to the States if you were a boy.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief; if my mother had these same concerns 20 years ago she’d understand my decision to renounce. I wish I had the same confidence in my friends’ reactions. I strongly suspect there will be a flurry of unfriending on Facebook if it ever comes out.