Photo by Larry Wilkinson, taken in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A couple of years ago (when I was still foolish enough to get into Facebook political debates) I got into a Facebook political debate. I don’t even remember what the topic was, but I remember someone commenting that I didn’t have a right to an opinion because I chose to live outside the U.S.

That cut me to the core, because I love my country – and I’ve always considered myself a patriot. We vote, we pay taxes, and we’re keenly attuned to what’s happening back home and how the political climate is affecting not only U.S. citizens but people in many other countries. And we didn’t move to Panama to escape the political situation. We did it because travel is in our DNA and we’re driven to experience other countries and other cultures.

Debbie Goehring and her husband Ron are U.S. expats living on Omotepe Island in Nicaragua. Debbie writes an outstanding blog about their lives there, and she recently hit on this exact topic. Debbie’s post was so on point, and articulated so many of our values as proud U.S. citizens living in Panama, that we wanted to share it here.

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” ― Mark Twain Usually one of the first questions I am asked about being an expat besides the “What do you do in Nicaragua?” or “Are you a missionary?” is “Why did you leave America?” My response is that I never left America. I […]

Read the rest here:  Love Your Country or Leave It? — Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua


  1. Ah, yes, the old ‘love it or leave it’ trope. Sounds familiar, like from the old Vietnam War days when the jingos wanted to bomb Hanoi back to the stone age. One thing that we’ve struggled with since becoming expats is that we didn’t leave ‘America.’ Tough as it is to get one’s brain around, folks in Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador etc. etc. are Americans. They don’t overtly consider themselves as such like we U.S. types do, but it’s true. We’ve had family question why we’d leave the good ‘ol USA, a brother for example who beats the drum for god, country, and apple pie who grumbled about ‘all the things to see here in ‘America.’ Especially now, it’s vitally important that we continue to point out the fallacy of these arguments, that love of country demands that we question the government, not enable it. Good post, and very timely.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The ‘Murca folks. If I could give them two gifts, one would be a passport (since only 30 percent of US citizens have them) and an open-ended plane ticket to see the world. Some folks’ eyes are never opened, but you know what Mark Twain says about travel and bigotry. The person who made that hurtful comment on Facebook is someone who has never left my small West Texas hometown.

  2. I loved this post when I read it on Debbie’s blog and liked reading your intro when you reposted this fine opinion piece. We also pay taxes, vote and follow the news carefully to keep up with current events and the issues. An oh how we’ve agonized and ranted in the last few months. There are many reasons to choose to live outside the country (a yen to travel and experience more of the world was ours) but, like you, it doesn’t mean that we’re not patriots. I think we do democracy a real disservice if we don’t raise our voices when we disagree! Anita

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Anita, realizing I never replied to your comment! I’ve had a busy, non-blog month 🙂 couldn’t agree more – as US citizens, the only recourse we have is to speak up, and to vote. Especially in these dark, dark days for our country.

  3. Freedom of speech doesn’t end just because you cross the border! Shame on whoever told you that you no longer had a right to an opinion because you were another place on the globe. Sometimes you can see the situation more clearly from afar. 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So true! Living overseas gives you a global perspective that’s really valuable.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi there – sorry for the tardy response! Playing a bit of catch-up today. But we could not agree more. I mainly just feel sorry for folks like that person – they lack the ability to gain a broader perspective. It’s sad.

  4. I am still holding Indonesian passport even after more than ten years living aboard and sometimes I get questions like “why don’t you change your nationality” (from the non-Indonesian people) or “why bother with Indonesian politics and news – you don’t live in Indonesia anymore, they won’t affect you” (from the Indonesian people). It feels like I am an outsider where ever ground I step in.
    I feel you and I think the person who said so to you was being unfair and clueless about how does it take to live aboard as a foreign national. IMHO, when you still keep your nationality while living aboard that meant you stay faithful and loyal to your country and that’s patriotism 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Very well-said! We also feel like outsiders sometimes. And yes, keeping your citizenship, even though you live elsewhere is very patriotic!

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