Election Day

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On this day of decisions, soul-searching (for some), defiance (for others), the walk to the polling station is one of the small gestures that binds a people together. It’s a walk three of my children have taken today, and I’m proud that they take their civic duties seriously. I won’t be walking with my friends and family because I have never asked for French nationality. It never seemed of much importance. I am Irish, an Irishness that was learned, handed down, taught at home and at school because I was an immigrant. I never lived in Ireland, only ever visited. My life was elsewhere, always has been, still is. My Irishness has never been something taken for granted, but a positive statement.

On this Election Day, I wonder if I have been wrong about the nature of Frenchness and what part of it, if any, belongs to me. What does it mean exactly to belong? Do I belong? My children don’t understand the problem. They have their Irish passports and French carte d’identité. Friends are surprised that I am still not a card-carrying French citizen. They don’t understand either. This fraught period of our history has opened my eyes to my own ideas about belonging. This is my place. These are my adopted people. There seems no valid reason for not taking the plunge and adding a second nationality to my allegiances. Perhaps this will be the last presidential election that I will stand by the side of the road and watch everyone else walk by.

 

Morning dawns the same

for all, night stars fade, moon sets

and the sun rises.

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Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

17 thoughts on “Election Day”

  1. THIS.
    You got it just right.
    I liked the ‘small gestures that bind people together’
    it’s like you see what others see but cannot translate.
    For once I said it exactly right – the above lines describe your power.
    shush don’t tell anyone 😉 xo

    1. There has been so much utter rubbish talked about ‘patriotism’ versus ‘globalism’ as if identifying with a specific part of the world means denying appartenance to the rest of the world. We’re all in this together and the sooner then small-minded ‘patriots’ wake up to it the better. I’m glad you don’t think I’m mad 🙂

      1. I would love you even if you were mad – as all the best people are – but seriously though no I have never thought anything of the sort. You have a sound and good mind, probably underappreciated at times I would suspect as it’s a lonely world for a deep thinker. And before you say it, yes you are! MMM the patriotism thing struck here also – I feel everything is really fractured right now – the answer is lower the population, increase jobs, be realistic more than speculative. Speculation causes half the problems and greed. xo

      2. I don’t think I’m mad either 🙂 Exasperated but not mad. I’m so pleased that Le Pen had a lower score than was predicted. There’s hope for us yet.

      3. I’d be a little worried if you were NOT exasperated! I think it will be on my tomb stone! Yes it was much lower wasn’t it? I think the Trump comparison helped 😉

      4. I’m not sure anyone in France gives a flying fuck about Trump to be honest. He’s a figure of fun if anything. Most people (except the desperate) just don’t like the Le Pen clan and what they stand for.

  2. I don’t think there has ever been a more clear choice, perhaps worldwide, as to where we put our emphasis as nations and as human beings. I have been appalled at the rise of nationalism and bigotry not only in the US but across other countries as well. My husband calls it the “last gasp” phenomenon. I just hope the world survives this last gasp…

    1. There’s always been bigotry and the make us great again syndrome and it’s spawned by economic insecurity and lack of hope in the future. The idea that it’s somehow linked to Islam and that our leaders are going to introduce Sharia law is just bonkers. Let’s just get the economy sorted out, jobs created, and let the religious fanatics on all sides go play with themselves.

  3. This was well said, Jane, and the haiku flowed beautifully from it. I didn’t know you had not voted in French elections, nor that you had not lived in Ireland at all–so, thanks for sharing a bit about your life.
    From what I’ve just seen, it appears that Macron has won. I’m happy to hear that. It would be horrible to have Le Pen (and all she stands for) in charge. Well, you know my views. 😉

    1. I was brought up in England from the age of four months, and lived there until I was 22. I can vote in local elections and European elections but not the national ones. It’s time I accepted that this is where I am. Macron might not be a great statesman (yet) but he has great enthusiasm, and much as my heart leans towards the left, there seems to me to be too much keeping out of date jobs (coal mining, car production etc ) just for the sake of keeping jobs. It’s tough, but we need a more modern economy and accept that the Chinese are going to make the iPhones, the TVs and all the white goods. We have to concentrate on what we can do better and cheaper, learn different skills and develop new technologies.

  4. My husband has dual nationality … British-US. I intend to take French Nationality at the first opportunity (next September I can start the process) and he will follow. I do not consider myself British and the British are capably proving that I, as an expatriated citizen and unlikely to have any rights in a couple of years time and don’t count in the negotiations). But whilst I have no carte d’identité here, I feel no less welcome. That, perhaps is a tiny green shoot in this mucked up world the politicians have created.

    1. Husband used to be dead set against applying for French nationality. I’ve never understood why as his connection with the UK has always been a joke. Now he’s all for it. I don’t think it’s Brexit, since it’s the kind of idiotic thing you’d expect of the Tories. Maybe because the issue of nationality and belonging has grown out of all proportion lately. Nationality means very little—belonging, everything.

  5. It’s so strange to live in a country and worry and fret and yet have no vote, it’s almost like being silenced. I have a struggle about the french never really letting foreigners in and my own fears as to whether I want to be accepted here. But if not here, then where else. Ireland too, like you, is who I am but after 20 years with feet sunk in the soil of other lands, where exactly does that make home. Is it the place that made us or the place where we make it. I was so emotional last night in the final countdown to the result and then actually filling up when Macron took to the stage on front of the ancient Louvre and the modern glass pyramid. Does that mean I am letting myself be accepted here? Who knows, except that I’ve gotten carried away. Suffice to say I’ve only been here two years and yet I hear you!! Sidelined or centre stage?

    1. I think you have to go with your gut. There are situations where being foreign goes against you. Mainly when it comes to what’s in short supply, like jobs. That’s the only time I’ve really felt elbowed out, but it’s like that for foreigners in most places. The Irish in England had a hard time being accepted, took 100 years and more. We are what we are born with and what we add to the basic trunk. I’m a tree with all sorts of things grafted onto it, but this is where I am now and where I feel I ought to be contributing. And I bet I know the words of the Marseillaise better than Emmanuel Macron and almost any footballer you can name 🙂

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