- April (23)
- March (31)
- No silly, hot dogs were not invented by the Pilgri...
- America Bashing... Not So Happy
- Government of the People, for the People
- Indigenous People
- Soccer Therapy
- America is made up of immigrants.
- Reaching out
- Presentation = Success
- Democrats And Republican Play Telephone
- Roots of Racism
- The Angry American
- Don't forget about kids
- The Mystery of Vijontest
- A Land of Immigrants
- It's not always as happy as we make it seem.
- America: Love It Or Leave It
- Do we NEED it? or WANT it?
- Would America still be America without War?
- Is America Lost? * needs links put back in *
- Thinking of "America" *
- What Does It Mean to be an American Today?*
- January (9)
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
When Sept. 11 happened, something similar occurred. We all stopped worrying so much about ourselves and we were able to treat each other as neighbors and comfort one another in that tough time. Now, while the Olympics is something to be happy and excited about, it bands us together as people advocating a common cause. The Olympic competitors are our hometown celebrities, and we love to see their faces shining on the fronts of newspapers. It instills loyalty in our hearts.
When our competitors win a medal we scream and jump up and down with excitement. The great thing? You can be assured your neighbors and friends are doing the same thing. We support our nation by watching the Olympics and cheering for those competing.
During those weeks we put our worries on hold. Well maybe not completely, but the Olympics is something that helps pull us out of our rut. Our depression about the economy, finances, and depletion of the Ozone layer is eased just a bit. Our spirits are lifted up and we look forward to the next day of competition.
Maybe I am idealizing the actual situation, but this is the vibe I feel during these Olympic weeks. Support our nation by watching the Olympics and cheering our competitors on to gold.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
My tools: The library, Internet, and The American Café in Lafayette
The food: This is my list of American food so far, if you think of some I left out, feel free to leave a comment and let me know.
- Pot Roast
- Hot Dogs
- Doughnuts and coffee
- Fried Chicken
- French fries
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Native Americans are the only ones who can rightfully call themselves American. This was their land until the “white men” took everything from them. We took their homeland, their pride, their lives, and in return we gave them diseases, reservations, alcohol, and casinos.
Native American substance abuse levels are higher than those of any other group and
the death of Native Americans due to alcohol is three times higher than everyone else.
Their propensity to alcohol, that we introduced them to, along with their lack of pride, we stole from them, has lead to a great amount of physical and sexual abuse.
Native American women experience the highest levels of sexual and domestic abuse of any group in the United States.
According to Amnesty International, "Many experts in the movement believe that Native women are raped more often simply because there is very little done to stop it. Tribal courts and tribal law enforcement agencies have not been provided with the resources necessary to provide sufficient protection from sexual assault."
What are we doing to change this?
In a monologue a Native American woman tells her story of abuse, ending with, “They took our land. They took our ways. They took our men. We want them back.”
Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born – we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible.- Obama's Independence Day Address
We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it. And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today.
1. not controlled by another: in politics, free from the authority, control, or domination of somebody or something else, especially not controlled by another state or organization and able to self-govern
2. able to function by self: able to operate alone because not dependent on somebody or something else
Each wheel has an independent suspension system.
3. self-supporting: not forced to rely on another for money or support
4. showing confidence in self: capable of thinking or acting without consultation with or guidance from others
an independent thinker
5. done without obstruction: carried out or operating without interference or influence from interested parties
an independent investigation
6. sufficient to live on: providing the means on which to live without having to work
7. politics not affiliated to political party: not belonging to, representing, or supporting any political party
8. mathematics not solvable using solution to another: describes a system of equations in which no single equation is necessarily solved using a solution to the others
9. statistics not affecting other variables: in statistics, distributed in such a way that the value taken on by one variable leaves all others unaffected
10. logic not dependent on axiom or proposition: not proved from another logical axiom or proposition
noun (plural in·de·pend·ents)
1. somebody or something unaffected by others: somebody or something that is free from control, dependence, or interference
2. politics somebody politically unaffiliated: a politician or voter who is not a member, representative, or supporter of any political party
Advertise your Independence with Urban dictionary definitions on:
- And more!
The other day I was reading in a park on the "wrong side" of town. I don't know who labeled that side of town the "wrong side," but I rather enjoy it over there. There were about 12 Hispanic guys in their 30s and 40s who were kicking a soccer ball nearby. I decided to set my book down and watch them play for awhile. After a few minutes they finished warming up and started setting up goalposts. One of the guys kept looking in my direction. Finally he turned to one of his friends and asked "Invitamos este? Pienso que quiere jugar." His friend shrugged. A few seconds later the guy turned to me and yelled "Hey you! Wanna play?"
It was a great game. And probably the most fun I've had in a long time. I really suck at soccer, but I tried hard, and the guys were forgiving. At the end of the match, we parted ways with smiles on our hearts, and I walked off in the bright sunshine laughing to myself. Maybe I can be a part of healing the racial divide.... one soccer game at a time.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The United States is made up of immigrants. No one is through and through American, unless of course that person is Native American. We all come from different countries and backgrounds. But that is what makes us American: we represent a variety of cultures. I spent time talking with Roman Kolyvanov, a George Fox student who came to the United States when he was 5. And though he doesn't remember much of his homeland, Russia, he certainly has a unique perspective on America and what it means to call oneself an American. He has learned how to balance his Russian family with his American assimilation.
My family is from Germany, and while I never lived in Germany, I was raised very German. We ate German food, I was disciplined in German, my grandmother told me proverbs in German, I learned how to cook German, we shopped at the German grocery store, and the list goes on. Just because I didn't live in Germany doesn't mean I don't have a sense of what it means to be German. When I travel to Germany it feels like I am surrounded by people similar to me. But at the same time, I am an American because I bring my unique experiences to my peer group. I say the pledge of allegiance with pride and tear up hearing our national anthem.
With Roman and I, we know we are loyal to America and our families love this land so dearly. But we do not forget our roots and we embrace our unique upbringings. We can discuss our cultures and find differences and similarities. These are the sorts of discussions everyone should be having. Be proud of immigrants in your family and recognize the courage it took to leave their homeland and bring you to the land of freedom and opportunity.
My life is an open book. I am willing to share my story, my walk through life. I dream about tomorrow, I hope for a better day.
Life is never quite what we plan. We make choices and take sides in hopes of finding the right path. Some variables are far out of our control. Accidents require surgery, medication to help with healing and recovery. All of my scars, the surgeries, the pain, nothing compares to the headaches and the lingering affects of numerous concussions.
Some days I can wake up ready to go, others I wake up in a fog. Groggy from what feels like too much beer from the night before. But this doesn't get better through the day, I can't sleep it off, that only makes it worse. My vitamin D levels are extremely low which also contributes to my lack of energy.
My body is aged beyond my years from playing hard growing up. In the last few years I've made attempts to fix some of the damage. Two shoulder surgeries, two hand surgeries and injections to relieve bulging discs in my neck. If I were in better shape, the recovery would likely be quicker. But my left shoulder is still loose, my right rotator cuff has a small tear, and the pain in my neck and back is often overwhelming.
I struggle with my weight, it bothers me. A part of me hides behind it, maybe it's a wall of defense. If I choose to run, the weight literally flies off, I've done it and it feels great. I have more energy, my confidence grows as I check the scale every morning. But I find myself wishing I had the energy and the drive to get up and run.
I had stomach surgery in 2001 to repair a Hiatal Hernia. My heartburn was so bad, golfing was uncomfortable. I couldn't go anywhere without my purple pills. Two weeks after that, I couldn't see. Sitting at the eye doctor for almost 3 hours, he finally checked my eye pressures. My left eye was at 52! No wonder it was blood red and half closed. I've been on various eye drops since and have had Glaucoma in both eyes for several years.
I could choose to have more surgery, which of course means more medication. For the better part of 3 years I have been on some sort of pain pill. I take enough as it is with my headaches. But I have decided to wake up. Even so, it’s a slow process. Addiction is difficult to overcome, change is a difficult challenge. I’m on an honor system with myself. Life is here and now, who knows what tomorrow holds.
I’ve never asked for a hand out, but a hand up is greatly appreciated. God’s hands are big, strong and gentle. My faith is undying, His love is never ending.
Monday, February 15, 2010
When did "Immigrant" become a dirty word in this country?
So often I hear the word used in conjunction with complaints about crime that I fear future generations will assume it is synonymous with convict. Modern immigrants are the scapegoats for a variety of ailments concerning our country, from economic crisis to urbanization.
Good ol' boys preach that the minorities of this country will take over with a swift flourish of the sombrero because of the option to press 2 for spanish. Those who make these arguments are sunk in the depths of racist paranoia. According to them, their Mexican co-worker is on the verge of offering a blanket covered in smallpox scabs (hindsight's a bitch, ain't it?). I know that I can't demean someone for trying to make a better life for them self or their loved ones.
We champion the story of Ellis island, but chastise the migrant worker who sends money to his family instead of spending it on a brand new Thunderbird. Very few Americans today can say their family originated in this country. Let us not forget that this land was not God-given, but taken in the name of God.
As a whole Americans seem to be pro-war when it comes to fighting for freedom and that type of thing. After 9/11 when the Iraqi war began you would see people not only flying their American flags, but bumper stickers, t-shirts, and more with “Support the Troops” were everywhere.
The United States government has gotten us into a lot of wars with, and sometimes without, the support of the American people. With a government and a nation being pro-war and about the troops, why are veterans just disregarded?
Let’s get this straight, I’d be hard pressed to think of an instance that war and killing another human being was necessary or appropriate.
I am saying that regardless if you support war, the people fighting it are human beings that come back with great needs. If you do support the troops, then you should support them even after they have fought the war.
Why are there so many veterans (WWII, Vietnam, Iraq) out on the street, drug addicted, and/or with mental illnesses? If we were treating them with half the respect we gave them while they were fighting, perhaps this wouldn’t be the case.
I don’t support war, but I do support the people that have to fight them, even when the fighting has ceased.
This week I was working on a website for my parent's church. I found E-zekiel.com, a church website building program, to be quite the frustrating experience.
After loudly expressing my feelings on the matter to a roommate, I got to thinking about a) What exactly I didn't like about it and b) What a website needs to be successful and c) How presentation in America is everything.
a) The program is not intuitive or easy to navigate. There are invisible buttons, that do not appear until you scroll over them. Cool effect if you have an artsy website, but not helpful for the technically challenged church goer who was elected manager of the website.
b) In order for a website to be successful it has to have (at least):
- The facts - when, where, what
- Identity - who are these people and what are they about
- Professionalism - is the website clean, well organized, and interesting
c) Today, if you are a company, church or individual wanting business, advertisement, or just to get information out there - Presentation is EVERYTHING. Especially web presentation.
As I was explaining this to my mother, it hit me that this is an American thing. Our culture is driven by presentation. Why else do we have designer brands? Ridiculously priced sports cars? Jewelry stores up the wazoo? And web-building programs (however unintuitive they are) for churches?
But it's not just presentation. You could have a pretty terrible website that presents your business, church or yourself and still not get anymore business or attendants than before. Quality is important.
I would even go so far to say that the quality of the presentation determines the success. It is not longer satisfactory to just have a website - now it has to be cutting-edge, well-done, classy even.
All this to say, all you web designers out there, buff up on your skills, because the presentation of websites is taking the stage in American success.
It was also very easy for the rest of us, who were born into this culture, to let those kids be isolated. It takes a lot of effort to try to understand someone who is so different from you.
So... both groups failed to initiate interactions with the "other," and continued to perpetuate segregation. We all knew in our heads that racism is wrong. In fact, we most likely never thought of ourselves as racist. We were just taking the easy road of non-interaction.
Thinking back, I wish we had done things differently. You see, it is that innocent separation that allows the fear of the "other" to sprout. Why is it so easy to create stereotypes? Why is it so easy to blame the "other" for societal problems that we are all responsible for? If we were to make an effort to engage; if we were to learn to care, we would soon see that all our fears are unfounded. People are people, no matter what the differences. Dare we be different? Dare we step outside of ourselves and extend our hands toward the "other?"
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Flashbulb memories. I learned about them in Psychology last year. These are the types of memories that are photographic. The ones that you can picture what you were doing, where you were, who you were around, maybe what you were wearing, what you smelt but most importantly, what you saw.
This was one of those memories.
It was my first week at H.B. Lee Middle school. As a new sixth grader I was ready to face the challenges and adventures that middle school brought with it. Maybe this would mean I would meet new cute boys. I would FINALLY get to wear makeup and I chose classes that interested me, not that I was necessarily forced to take.
Because I was new to school, and although my middle school could be seen from almost every location in my house (aka, I walked to school with my sister and my best friend Rachel everyday during middle school. Even in the rain and snow), I insisted upon arriving to school fifteen or twenty minutes to socialize, put things in my awesome blue locker or settle into my seat and wait for Mr. Cosby’s homeroom class to begin.
This day was supposed to be like any other day. Rachel would meet us at our house and the three of us would walk to school together.
Little did we know this day would change America forever.
For today, was September 11, 2001.
I remember standing in my parent’s room next to TV. My dad was in the process of getting ready for work and my mom was sitting on their bed. I had heard their gasps of surprise shock and their hurried conversations and I knew something was wrong.
I looked at the television screen and saw the first tower of World Trade Center in New York City burning. The news stations kept repeating terrorists and a plane hitting the tower.
I remember standing there watching my parents faces but not fully grasping what was happening. I kept thinking to myself “c’mon Ali and Rachel, we have to go or we’ll be late.” Even then I was an overachiever of sorts.
But then I saw the second plane hit and both towers were smoldering, flames lapping at the air.
My parents made us leave for school.
While there, people were crying. Everyone was distracted. Parents were coming to pick their kids up and my classmates were complaining that they should not have to be in school that day.
We watched the towers collapse in class. We saw the people running with covered faces, people crying and bleeding in the streets, begging for help. We heard that a plane had hit the pentagon and another landed in a field somewhere. We heard that America had been attacked.
I was 11 years old.
Nine years later and this tragedy still affects the country deeply. It has led us to war. It has led us to, thank God, stricter measures taken at airports, and a stronger defense in our branches of military.
But what I love about America is that we stand up to opposition. We fight for the fallen. We fight for our freedom. And we don’t lie down and wait for people to roll over the top of us. We are strong nation. We may not always agree with decisions our government makes or injustices we witness, but we are a strong country. A strong FREE country.
Toby Keith sang a song after the tragedy of September 11 called the Angry American.
Some of the most memorable lyrics of this song read,
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way
So now I ask you...What were YOU doing on 9/11? What are your thoughts on Toby Keith's song?
Do you agree that freedom is not free?
Monday, February 8, 2010
I grew up confused because my parents weren't together anymore. I watched my own children go through this same struggle. From my own experiences, I relate to their feelings and recognize what they are going through. Considering what we have gone through, I don't think I could build a stronger relationship with them. They are my best friends, each of them. In their own way, I am touched and blessed to be surrounded by such a good group. I am thankful for them.
My story is all too familiar with how we relate to America. I came from a broken home and repeated the cycle with my own children. It was and is at times heartbreaking. Saying goodbye or not seeing them for a few days. I have already made them lose a part of their childhood, forcing them to think and react to adult problems. I am sad for that, it hurts when I think about it. If I could do anything to help them, it would be to show them and guide them from my own mistakes.
I look at the younger generation of kids growing up and see too many of them growing up too soon. Kids deserve to be kids, to grow up naturally by experimenting, playing and making friends through sports and other activities. If I had the magical answer, I would share it. But I don't, so instead I am asking; how do we let kids grow up in freedom? How can we ensure each child gets the opportunity to grow up and live a happy childhood?
I know for me and my kids, it starts with me.
Howie Mandel. My parents remember him from St Elsewhere, and I remember him from reruns of Bobby's World. You might remember him from NBC's version of Deal or No Deal too. He also did some voice acting for Muppet Babies, which re-ran on Cartoon Network against stiff opposition from Rugrats. No offense Howie, but the production values on Muppet Babies were just too off-putting compared to Rugrats in all its lump-headed glory.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about. At 7:37 AM on February 6th, 2010, Mr. Mandel (via Twitter) gave us this description of America: Vijontest. Howie, what does this mean?
I've tried saying it repeatedly with different accents etc, like Mad Gab, spelling it backwards, tsetnojiv, even rearranging the letters (vest joint?). No luck. So I'm going into this blind.
Now I shall endeavor to find a definition of this word.
Possibility #1: A Canadian insult.
As we all know, via Wikipedia, Howie Mandel is Canadian. He currently lives in Los Angeles, but that's only because that's where the show business is. There are tons of Canadians who have made it big in America, and we love them! But I have a sneaking suspicion that they aren't as fond of us as we are of them.
Possibility #2: A Dutch insult.
As we all know, via Wikipedia, Howie Mandel hosted the American and Canadian versions of Deal or No Deal. And, according to Wikipedia, Deal or No Deal is of Dutch origin. The Netherlands is an extremely progressive area, and Vijontest is obviously a Dutch insult, criticizing us for being so conservative. Or at least slow on the uptake.
That's all I have. What do you think Vijontest means?
I don’t know, maybe I see all that the American government lacks and all the negative things that come along with it, because I’m just spoiled.
Like a child that has grown up in privilege, being given almost anything they wanted, and lacking practically nothing, they focus their attention on what little they don’t have…A spoiled brat.
Perhaps I have lived with so much freedom and opportunity that I just take it for granted. Instead of looking at the wonderful things about being an American, and all the freedoms we have, that so many countries in the world only dream of having, I instead choose to look at what is still lacking.
I can’t even comprehend what citizens in other countries go through with a dictatorship and/or no real rights to speak of. There’s obviously a reason why people from other nations flock to America.
We might have a lot of issues we need to overcome, but when I really think about it, we are pretty blessed to have all that we do have.
I think both sides need to be able to look at the merits of each others arguments.
Some people are gung ho about America and believe that what America stands for and what it offers is amazing. That shouldn’t mean you don’t analyze our government and it’s ideals and point out ways in which change needs to occur.
On the other hand, those who disagree with American policy and corruption, need to take a second and see all the amazing things that America has to offer, and realize how fortunate we are to be living in a country that offers freedom and a chance for the people to make decisions.
When I say this, I am talking to myself as much as to anyone else. It’s easy to get stuck on the negative and notice what you don’t have, instead of stepping back and being grateful for what you do have.
With this history of immigration in mind, today's immigration issues take on a rather different light. As kids we were taught to be proud of our immigrant past, and the atrocities that our forefathers committed were not dwelt on. We were told that we live in a land of opportunity, where anybody can make it big... especially poor penniless immigrants. We were told that we live in a melting pot of cultures (though many today prefer to call it a salad or a stew), with all the world represented by our one single nation. We were told we live in the greatest country on earth. So... what's with all the hysteria these days about immigration? In recent years, this has become one of the most heated debates in the nation. There is a lot of anger surrounding this issue, particularly towards Mexican immigrants. Why are we who are so proud to be the descendants of pioneers so adamant about refusing to allow any more people in to our country? Isn't our stance a tiny bit hypocritical?
Over the next few weeks I will be exploring the issue of immigration a little more in depth, examining questions about racism, fear, nationalism, etc. I will also be interviewing several people with differing points of view on the subject.
**This is a generalized statement and does not apply to each and every American.
While being an American comes with endless advantages (um freedom anyone?), they sometimes seem to get overwhelmed by our greed and selfishness.
This country was founded on the hard work, diligence, and perseverance of many men and women; many of whom are not even in our history books. They sacrificed and risked their lives and liberty to protect ours. But do we think about this as we sit comfortably in our recliner watching the Super Bowl in our warm, safe homes? Why does it often take an American flag and the national anthem to get us to stop and think about our freedom?
I have traveled to many countries across the world, and the general consensus is that Americans are fat, greedy, and very ego-centric. How did this stereotype come to be? Why do citizens of other countries put up a guard when Americans visit their towns? How did we impress them so negatively that they harbor hurt and even anger toward us? We feel entitled that what's yours is ours, and we are better than you because we don't live under an oppressive government. This may not be our conscious attitude, but this is the impression we have made on the world.
We expect things immediately and cannot be bothered with inconveniences. We have things to do and could not be inhibited by helping someone out on the street. Our tasks are the most important things in the world today. No need to worry about hungry nations, contaminated water, or kids who go to school without shoes. We just read the headlines, give a quick flinch of a sad emotion, and continue on to Starbucks to buy our $4 latte. This is America, this is how we demonstrate our privileged citizenship day after day.
I’ve been urged to do all of the following since I can remember. History curriculum urges the young, budding American to exercise their guaranteed right of expression. I am given examples of forefathers who deliberately wrote this freedom into the cement of this country’s foundation.
The government cannot condemn me for what I choose to say. This is great.
But when it comes to other citizens…well…
When I refuse to unite behind a war I deem unjust, I am accused of being unpatriotic.
When I ask why incarceration rates amongst black males are much higher than any other race, I am diagnosed with white guilt.
When I support universal health care, I am a socialist.
When I affirm my religious beliefs, I am a misguided fundamentalist.
You get the picture.
I ask: what good is freedom of speech when citizens are frothing at the mouth to condemn?
Why do people love to say this, and other people hate the very thought of it? (Stereo)Typically the difference between people who love it and people who hate it are divided between Republicans (who love it) and Democrats (who hate it.)
Thursday, February 4, 2010
There are many things I love in life. I love God. I love country music, stepping on pine cones and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I have a fiancé who I love very much, and the best friends and family a girl could ask for.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I'm driving through town and I see an American flag at half mast. Why? The word on the street is that a soldier died today. Someone local. There is a sense of mourning and heaviness in those words. Even if I didn't know him, I feel this loss.
How many bumper stickers have you seen on the topic of war. Cafepress has 38,800 war related bumper stickers for sale. When was the last time you bought a newspaper that didn't have at least one article on the topic of war? Google "Support our troops merchandise" This is making money. One website even has a "Patriotic Gazebo Decorating Kit"
What would happen if ever our country wasn't at war? There is so much time and money spent on war endeavors from the national level to little jelly bracelets saying, "Support our Troops". Where would all that money go? What would we do with all that time and energy? Is war at the heart of America?
John Lennon sang "All we are saying, is give peace a chance" . But what if we actually did? Brush aside all those doubts of if that could ever happen and think about it for a moment. We have such a momentum on the topic of war. What if that topic no longer existed. What would we talk about? Write about? Make bracelets and gazebo decorating kits about?
Would we need to redefine "America"? What would you say?
Monday, February 1, 2010
I often wonder what it would have been like to grow up in America prior to World War II. Our country seems to have lost a lot of its swagger and national pride in the last few decades. To blame the fallout and social changes on the Vietnam War seems a little far-fetched. Was there a rush to volunteer for the Korean War? Not like our country witnessed in every other time of conflict in our nation's history.
I vividly remember watching the news as I got ready to go to work on September 11th. "Breaking News, a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center." I watched in disbelief, asking myself "How could this happen?" Then, another plane crashed, and my thoughts instantly went to Terrorism!
Our nation has lost sight of why America engaged in a war - two wars, for that matter. Many of us seem to have forgotten about the Twin Towers falling and the loss of so many innocent lives. We have forgotten that Osama Bin Laden has been a thorn in our side for many years, and that this was not his first attack on America.
Say the word, "America". What comes to mind? Perhaps the age old symbols; the American flag, the White House, Uncle Sam, or Abraham Lincoln. Do you think of colors? Red, white and blue; the new "green" America? What about the current "hot topics" in politics? Fast food? Fashion? The President? Whatever it is, we all have some definition of America. Here's mine:
My immediate reaction is a pain in my heart and a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. This likely stems from the first word I associate with "America": Politics. To be quite frank with you, I cringe every time I hear that word. Politics. At some point, I will expound on these feelings, but for now, just note that it is not a welcome subject.
Next, I think of the beginnings of America. Stories of great leaders, freedom, and cowboys. I remember stories from my childhood of Indians, bravery, and new beginnings. My heart gets all warm and fuzzy.
Finally the thought that comes to me is the state of America today, and how that defines the future. What does America look like? What have we done right? Wrong? Previous decisions and choices have dictated the present America; what choices are we making now that will shape the story for our children and grandchildren? Many questions come to mind; the biggest of them being: Is America today what it was meant to be at the beginning; a place of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?
Or has America gone out to sea?
Perhaps I should begin by admitting to the fact that I fully benefit from all of the good things America has to offer its citizens (especially its white citizens). I have received a quality education, a drivers license, health benefits, food stamps, police protection, etc. etc. I will not deny that there are some awesome things about this country, and that I am glad to live it. It is a place where people can believe pretty much whatever they want to. I can go to my little Quaker church as much as I want with no fear of being arrested. I can criticize the government with no fear of losing my head. Since I am a white male from a comfortable family, I can be pretty much whatever I want to be in this country.
However, I cannot and will not claim that America is a country without fault, or that it is better than other countries, or even that it is better than most. There is no arguing the fact that America is the dominant superpower in today's world, both economically and militarily. What is arguable, is whether or not that is a positive thing. Our concept of Manifest Destiny has allowed us to justify our current status of world domination, but the truth is, we are no better than anybody else.
There are two ways of being an American. You can be patriotic, or you can be nationalistic. Patriotism is the love of one's country and the people in it. Nationalism is the concept that one's own country is the best in the world and that everyone else should either bow to it, join it, or get out of the way. I am a patriot. I am not a nationalist. Nationalism has been the cause of way too much bloodshed to be a good thing. This blog is about challenging it.
You can do whatever you like. American dream. If you like making doughnuts, you can open a doughnut shop and live happily ever after. Impractical? Extremely. But the American mentality will tell you that anything is attainable, and all you need is the willingness to work hard. I do not want to be the one to crush this dream, but in reality, it is far-fetched. But maybe that is what America is; a country of open doors, a million opportunities... Maybe that is why all of the other countries tend to think America is so bratty. We have so much opportunity it's ridiculous. Although we might feel lost and hopeless at times, we never REALLY feel the impending fear that so many who live in poverty do. A sense of security makes people lazy.
I recently decided to count all my blessing, as a way of thanking God and keeping myself from being selfish. I have since realized that I am disgustingly rich. My roommate moved out, so now I can use her closet, and I have 3 closets full of clothes. I have two beds in my dorm room and two beds in my bedroom at home. I have 4 beds that I can sleep in anytime I feel like it. I have two places to live; a dorm and a house. I have the opportunity to use makeup to make myself look "extra" good, whereas many people in other countries do not even have enough clothes. The Bible says God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or think, and I have that, much thanks to America and to God. And what did I do all of high-school? I whined that people didn't treat me the way I wanted, whined that I couldn't buy everything I wanted, whined that I wasn't pretty enough, and whined that my cellphone didn't hook up to the internet fast enough. The fact that I even spent time thinking about those things makes me a whole lot richer than a very significant percent of the world.
So what does it mean to be American? Or at least, an average American teenager?
To have much... and expect more.