More on Divided Loyalties

Hey everyone! After I wrote my post on Enjoying Sports as A TCK, I felt it was important to expand more into the topic of divided loyalties. There are a lot of incorrect ideas floating around, and I wish to set the record straight. There are so many famous quotes about how division is bad, so it’s no surprise that we automatically think that something divided is bad. I’m sharing a quote from Abraham Lincoln. It has merit, but here’s why it shouldn’t be taken at face value.

A Little More About the Olympics and Divided Loyalties:

I have seen athletes compete in the Olympics who are originally from one country and end up on another national team. I respect that there are residency and training requirements for being on a national team. The nicest thing though is that there isn’t a lot of media fervour over whether immigrant athletes are loyal to their new national team. If there is, I just ignore it because it’s just hype. I feel sorry for the athletes that are subjected to that though.

The Tokyo Olympics were unique this year. I saw a lot more athletes who used to live in one country and then moved to another and ended up competing on their national team. I got to admit, some athletes’ backgrounds made me think, “Yep! TCK!” One cool thing too was there was a refugee team. One of my friends said that there might be a TCK team someday, and you know what? I believe it! Honestly, when it comes to sporting events, divided loyalties can be fun! I wish it was more accepted in general, though. Another funny thing I noticed is whenever I saw the sign “Tokyo 2020”, my mind kept thinking, “Did it just say TCK yo?”

On a More Serious Note:

TCKs can be judged harshly by monocultural people because they have divided loyalties. There is a common misconception that having TCKs in the military or government, or even business that they can compromise who they represent. In reality, when TCKs act as representatives of a country, they do an even better job because they know how to practice effective intercultural communication. If they know the cultural norms of a country they have to communicate with, even better. Even if they don’t know the cultural norms, they have ways of finding these things out because they have their own little international network.

Additionally, you become a TCK because of the institution your parents belong to. That can include military, missionary, diplomat, corporate or anything else. I might not have said this before, but I’m an academic brat turned corporate brat. Generally, TCKs are against whatever institution their parents were a part of. If they do follow their parents, it’s not without giving it significant thought. I am very anti-corporate BECAUSE WE GOT SCREWED!! I went to university rather late after giving it significant thought. Nailed it!

The Reality:

When TCKs choose to represent a certain culture, they are committed to doing right by that culture. They have thought through the pros and cons. There are certain institutions that demand complete loyalty, like the military. For me, it’s natural to shy away from institutions that demand complete loyalty. I still respect TCKs who can get their minds around being in an institution that demands complete loyalty.

It’s commonly overlooked that TCKs learned from an early age that they are representatives of whatever country they came from. Some of that representation has been imposed by their parents’ institution, and some of that is simply awareness that when you’re overseas, you’re a representative. Learning how to be a representative on a daily basis doesn’t just go away as you get older.

Whenever I have wanted to apply for a job that has a specific cultural twist, my mother always warned me that I might not get it because I’m multicultural and they might doubt my loyalty. At first, I thought she was creating a prejudice that wasn’t there. As it turned out, she was right. This is yet another reason why I’m starting my own business.

A Real-life Example of TCKs Getting Crap:

Unless you’re in the international scene, you probably don’t know that Barack Obama is a TCK. Yep, look at his bio. Kamala Harris is a TCK too. I remember when Obama was running for President, and even though I didn’t know the term TCK at the time, I said, “Finally! Someone I can relate to!” Then, Donald Trump started the Birther Movement and that was insulting to TCKs around the world. That made me question if I could ever go back to the US again. It’s yet another example of TCKs getting crap for their multicultural experience. I had heard mainstream US media and Americans, in general, were trying to put Obama in boxes which he clearly didn’t fit. You can’t put a TCK in a box.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Obama was NOT a security risk! If anything, I found his abilities to relate to leaders from other countries and to connect to people second to none! He’s an incredible role model for all TCKs.

I saw a similar trend in media when Kamala Harris was announced as Biden’s running mate. Of course, since she wasn’t running for president, it was on a lower level. I don’t particularly like Kamala Harris, but I do feel sorry for her on the crap she gets in the media. It’s like, can we move on already? I do think that Obama and Harris are very different people though, but I think I will save my thoughts on that for another post.

I can hear people saying they could never have a TCK in politics. Meryl Streep’s lines are my responses.

If you want to live in a globalized world, those choices are necessary.

And then, I Found a Surprise:

I moved to Canada and found out many Members of Parliament are either multicultural or have dual nationality. Elizabeth May, former leader of the Green Party used to have US citizenship. Additionally, Andrew Scheer, former leader of the Conservative Party has dual Canadian and US citizenship. So, if he had become Prime Minister *GASPS!! We would have had a PM who had dual nationality!

I bet Canadians were looking at the Birther Movement and laughing because if we did that, we would never report on any news because of so many MPs to cover! When the US was like, “Obama wasn’t born in the US! ARGH!!” and I bet Canadians were like, “We don’t give a flying fuck!” Am I right, my fellow Canuks? To be clear, I don’t know if this was true, but I had to inject a little humour here.

Divided Loyalties are More Common than You Think:

I have met people who have fought during WWII and I love their stories. Here’s my one wish though. I wish that I had met a WWII veteran who was German-American or Japanese-American. American soldiers of German or Japanese heritage had divided loyalties too. The Japanese-American unit became the most decorated unit in the American military. However, the soldiers didn’t normally share with their loved ones that they were decorated. Back then, you didn’t talk about how you felt torn with divided loyalties. You just zipped your lip and did your duty.

Sometimes, divided loyalties can be very painful for TCKs and we don’t like to talk about it either. It’s amazing to meet others who can relate to divided loyalties. I feel the bottom line is no one can tell you how much to love a country and what parts to love. You have to figure it out for yourself, and most importantly, not judge others for not loving the same things you love. There are so many diverse and kinetic elements of culture that you can find what you like. Heck, I know monocultural people who never leave a country to like different things about their country and they get along just fine! Why should it be different for multicultural people?

What do you think about what I said? Let me know in the comments! Until next time.

Author: winteroseca

I'm a Third Culture Kid who has lived in four different countries before and recently moved to Canada. Follow my blog about my life in Canada, plus expat life hacks and more!

21 thoughts on “More on Divided Loyalties”

    1. That’s an interesting perspective. I do feel like one becomes a better citizen overall when they grow up in a situation with an expanded worldview. Thanks for commenting 😊

  1. That’s so true. As an immigrant, one does feel that way–the haunting conflict from inside. Still we try to make contributions while steering clear of pitfalls.

  2. I like reading your thoughts. I remember writing about Divided Loyalties at the time of the football world cup (soccer for those who don’t travel πŸ™‚ ) The custom of putting flags in the windows of cars gave grounds for reflection. One flag, two flags, country of origin, country of residence, country of wife, husband, parents …. so many variations.

    1. I have only rarely seen that myself of more than one flag on a car. Nice to know it is still going on. I like to frame switch between saying soccer and football too and also I sometimes trick people into thinking I’m talking about one sport when I’m actually talking about another sport! It’s all in good fun though. Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head by saying that no one can tell you how much to love a country and what parts to love. It’s different for each person, whether or not they are a TCK. It’s all about having a safe space to be who you are. Take care. Linda

    1. That is very true. I do feel like sometimes multicultural people are more aware of this than monocultural people but it depends on the country. I can’t tell you how pissed off other Americans made me because to them I wasn’t “American enough”. I haven’t seen any of that here, which is a big relief for me! Thanks for commenting 😊

      1. I’ve never really understood why Americans are so patriotic either. It gets to the point where it becomes a bit obnoxious. I also never really understood how they can love their country so much but then have so much hate for other people that live in “their” country.

      2. I never will understand that. That’s what I get for growing up out of the US. The whole attitude there made reverse culture shock very hard for me and in the end I crashed and said I couldn’t stay anymore

    1. Thank you. I do find that common in people who have immigrated too. Have you ever seen the Karate Kid? There is a scene about what I said with Japanese and German American soldiers never told people if they were decorated for their service. Thanks for commenting 😊

  4. I see no problem being loyal to the country you reside in at the time. It is kind of like moving to a new city in the same country and cheering for their football or hockey teams. It only makes sense to support where you live. As to the whole Birther thing, that was straight deflect and election ploy (as well as thinly veiled bigotry) from DJT. In my mind, it is better to have a new citizen, who is loyal to his new country in charge, rather than an A–hole who has taken advantage of that country all his life. It should be about character, not wealth and fame. Now the argument has come up in regard to Canadian politics. We have an MP in Edmonton, who lives in Ottawa, not here. Now, perhaps that should not be allowed. Cheers. Allan

    1. I fully agree about what you said about being loyal to where you live. I didn’t fully understand that Birther movement at the time. Mainly because I was insulted by it. Someone’s character really should be a benchmark. I did hear about that MP. I would say that shouldn’t be allowed at all! Thanks for sharing your thoughts too 😊

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