I realised with a prickle of discomfort why he bothered me: it was not so much that I resented the hearty backslapping bonhomie of English upper-class gentlemen, for I could tolerate it well enough in Sidney on his own. It was the way Sidney fell so easily into this strutting group of young men, where I could not, and the fear that he might in some ways prefer their company to mine. Once again, I felt that peculiar stab of loneliness that only an exile truly knows: the sense that I did not belong, and never would again.
The Americans are very patriotic, and wish to make their new citizens patriotic Americans. But it is the idea of making a new nation literally out of any old nation that comes along. In a word, what is unique is not America but what is called Americanisation. We understand nothing till we understand the amazing ambition to Americanise the Kamskatkan and the Hairy Ainu. We are not trying to Anglicise thousand of French cooks or Italian organ-grinders. France is not trying to Gallicise thousands of English trippers or German prisoners of war. America is the only place in the world where this process, healthy or unhealthy, possible or impossible, is going on. And the process, as I have pointed out, is not internationalization. It would be truer to say it is the nationalization of the internationalized. It is making a home out of vagabonds and a nation out of exiles.
Once again she would arrive at a foreign place. Once again be the newcomer, an outsider, the one who did not belong. She knew from experience that she would quickly have to ingratiate herself with her new masters to avoid being rejected or, in more dire cases, punished. Then there would be the phase where she would have to sharpen her senses in order to see and hear as acutely as possible so that she could assimilate quickly all the new customs and the words most frequently used by the group she was to become a part of--so that finally, she would be judged on her own merits.
It's a fact is ignorant in some way or another. Ignorance is our deepest secret. And it is one of the scariest things out there, because those of us who are most ignorant are also the ones who often don't know it or don't want to admit it. Here is a quick test: If you have changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never the basics, and if you have to do so, then you are likely ignorant. Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who,, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation. It will do of you good.