Happy Independence Day to my American readers!!
Today is a day dedicated to celebrating our country, its founding, and its infamous patriotism. No matter which of the fifty states you call home, we’re all united under that red, white and blue, and that’s a pretty cool thing if you ask me.
Since I was a little kid, pride for my country was absolutely drilled into my head. We read the pledge of allegiance at school every morning and stood for the national anthem, hands over our hearts as we sang proudly in unison. My family threw huge parties on the fourth of July every year, and I so looked forward to sprawling out on the golf course with my friends and watching fireworks light up the sky. I adored American history, and when “America, the Beautiful” came on, I admit, I used to get a little teary eyed.
This year, though, things feel a little different for me.
I’m really not that proud of my country anymore.
I’ve officially hit the voting age, which means I actually have to be involved in politics and stuff. Turns out, I’m actually super passionate about it, and I spent hours doing research, reading books, and watching the news before I polarized towards the left (surprise!). One of the first things I do in the morning is pull up my news apps and see what’s going on in American and around the world.
And here’s what I’ve found to be going on lately.
Immigrant children are being ripped away from their families at the border (something that’s actually been going on for YEARS), and are being kept in literal cages.
These toddlers are being forced to testify in court, alone.
America has 31% of the world’s mass shooters, and we also have the highest amount of guns per capita (coincidence?).
The crises in other countries are rarely reported on our news sources, but the president’s tweets sure are.
Our country is founded, literally, on freedom of religion, yet people are angry that evolution is being taught in school instead of the Lord’s Prayer.
The LGBTQA+ community is still facing discrimination.
My black friends have to teach their little brothers how to hold their hands, how to carry their heads, how to walk and talk and breathe without being seen as a threat due to internalized racism.
There’s a national pay gap between men and women… and women of color are even further separated.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death.
One of every six retirees in America is a millionaire, yet 43.1 million Americans live in poverty.
Our veterans, who fought for our freedom, come home with PTSD and without a place in the workforce.
Yeah, I’d say we have a few things to work on.
I’ve seen this more this year than ever. And that is heartbreaking.
But you know what else?
I’ve seen this more this year than ever. And that makes me proud to be an American.
The political pot is finally boiling over, and that’s because more and more people are jumping in and getting angry and demanding justice for those who can’t demand justice for themselves, or for those whose voices have been shut out time and time again.
We are seeing these problems, not because they are new, but because our citizens refuse to let them pass by the wayside anymore.
This is not a matter of sudden destruction, but a matter of sudden uproar.
I attended March 4 Our Lives this March, a movement that pushed for gun control (yes, CONTROL, not abolition) following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High this year. I have never in my life seen so many people from all walks of life, of all ages, of all races, unite together for a common dream of peace. Living in that moment of history was, to me, living the building of the future. As I walked peacefully down the streets, picket sign in hand, chanting “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE”… I realized how lucky I am to live in this country. This beautiful country where I have the right to use my voice to change what I don’t like. Where people step out of the shadows to come together and fight for universal rights. Where everyone has an opinion, which means that everyone cares.
I am a well-off white female, so yes, I do have running water, and a free education, and the chances to make all of my dreams come true. I truly do live in a wonderful place.
But I know that it is not wonderful for everyone.
We have to use privilege as a platform on which to scream this.
America has never been the land of the free, but hey, we’re working on it.
And I’m proud of us for that.
Maybe the American dream isn’t financial success, but freedom of success. Equality of success. Everyone helping everyone to be successful.
Now go watch some fireworks and remember to USE YOUR VOICE AND USE YOUR VOTE!