Why We’re Going Back To France
Please don’t take this personally. Whenever I say to someone here that we’re longing to go back to France, I feel like a rat. Of course it’s not you we want to leave, and we’re not saying that where you live happily somehow isn’t good enough for us, and we’re not saying that we’re such misfits that we can’t find a way to be happy here. All we’re saying is that we loved our life in France and we want it back.
I feel it the most keenly, speaking with friends in Europe, trying to explain to them how it’s possible that we almost missed having a health care bill, how the insurance companies wanted to weasel out of covering sick children. It’s like science fiction to a European, that such a thing could even be possible. And congress people getting death threats for their votes? Like a cowboy movie, right up there with the fact that we have coyotes here on the island, something from an old Western.
Last night we watched Food Inc. We missed it when it came out, but we’d heard a lot about it. Even still, it was beyond appalling. Shel says that he kept thinking “this could never happen in France” and I think he’s right. The French have a spirit of resistance that I find totally formidable.
People here joke a lot about French strikes and protests, but I love them. I love the fact that it’s part of the French national character to stand up and be counted, to fight back against social injustice, to struggle to maintain their quality of life, including the quality of their food and of their medical system. The French believe in sticking together to defend what’s important, in solidarité, in a way that’s nearly impossible to explain to an American, for whom the very word solidarity conjures up images of McCarthyism.
But to the French, solidarity is what makes society function, what makes life livable, what knits the country together. And when we lived there, we were knitted into that web, in a way I’ve never experienced in this country. Sure, we were in it for the wine, the cheese, the antiquities, the cool French cars, the beautiful language. But what we’re really missing, and why we really have to go back as soon as possible, is the feeling of living in a culture where relationships between people are the highest value. It’s a remarkable thing to be part of and we’re going back to find our place again in that enticing French web of life.
Although given today’s date, I can’t tell you exactly when this will all happen, or if it’s only an April delusion.