What Does America Mean to Us?
Written on my phone- July 7th, 2016 Washington D.C.
Each of us views America differently. And the lines of difference vary greatly depending on class, race, identity, education, and experience; variations that often times seem to divide us more than they should. But one thing rings true within each and every one of us when we contemplate the country in which we live. When we think of America, we feel strongly that our selective views are real. We want to scream, cry, fight, or rejoice. To each and everyone of us, America is real. It is happening in some way around us, within us, or without us. We feel compelled to, in some way, make ourselves real in sharing what America means to us. We hope to prove to others that we are here, that we are present, and that we matter; especially in times of great controversy.
This is executed individually in a complexity of ways. From what we chose to do with our time, to the ambitions that we seek, to the social identities that we adopt, and to the values that we carry. But in many ways, this feeling is uniquely American. It is a default position that we find ourselves in when we come of age. We seem to inherently understand that we matter, just by being born, and it is only when we realize, or accept that we do not matter, that we begin to internalize reality, or decide to change it.
This identity crisis is a fundamental characteristic of this country. It drives all of us. And while it carries many tragedies, it also carries the spirit of our citizenship. Perhaps, others come to this country in order to experience that same personal phenomenon. To have a chance at the freedom of identity that we as a country have managed to encourage above many things. The freedom to be and do as we wish, despite opposition, because the spirit of the constitution is ingrained in all of us. The freedom to say and investigate as we wish, because there is always a place for us, and for our thoughts. The freedom to touch, smell, and perceive this nation in anyway that we see fit, because we as creators, consumers, and as constituents have value. And as citizens of this nation, have the freedom to make our reality the reality of others, whether big or small.
The internet is our most powerful means of achieving this desire. And with the internet, this unique quality of the American born mind runs rampant, without intelligence at times, but always with spirit. While exceptionalism has increasingly become the view of our parents and grandparents, America, and what it means to each of us, continues to be real. Yet, while the desire to exert ourselves, our beliefs, our understandings, and our passions, is powerfully fueling our daily lives, we seem to think that it is enough to argue and fear one another. Stop killing us, stop disagreeing with me, YOU are the problem. YOU are the reason I feel pain. YOU are the reason my family feels pain, and YOU are the reason I cannot LIVE.
What does this mean for our democracy? How are we to reconstruct the future of an American democracy that is founded on hateful division?
We must be civil. We must be diplomatic. These are the principles that founded the nation that we all feel within ourselves. Real change requires emotion AND action. Intuition AND reason.
While law, civility, debate, and balance are successful means of progress that we cannot deny or abandon, the powerful leaders of our nation have accepted the fact that the American people are embarrassingly easy to manipulate, lie to, and satiate through momentary rhetoric that is inherently insincere. I am tired of reading discontent that dissipates without action. The self-awareness of our generation has cornered us into a dangerous narcissistic blindness. While our parents and grandparents are going to work each day hoping to keep this country afloat, we are complaining, while providing few viable solutions. And now, more than the time of our parents, we need major reconstruction. This is a great time to be alive because major change in this country is severely necessary. And it is not purely the social changes that partisan agendas would like us to consume. We need massive financial, environmental, and political changes that do not only impact this country, but the whole world. This burden lies upon us. Upon this generation that has confused personal identity with democratic revolution. It seems that at no other time in American history the major problems that face our democracy have been ignored more than they are now.
We do not see the logic in voting, we do not see the logic in educating ourselves, we do not see the logic in debating with one another, we do not see the logic in maintaining laws that do not protect us, we do not see the logic in investing, we do not see the logic in reproducing, we do not see the logic in protecting and fighting for the liberties of all Americans, we do not see the logic in paying taxes, we do not see the logic in inventing, we do not see the logic in actively engaging and listening to the experience and hardships of our fellow citizens. We hope that our opinion is enough. We hope that our attacks on one another are enough. We hope that attempting to silence opposition is enough. We hope that a new leader is enough.
The only action we have taken thus far is the pushing of our own moment to moment agendas while simultaneously consuming or selling. Left, right, in between, upside down, or whatever platform we have used to heighten the feeble ideas that we have of ourselves needs to translate into something tangible. And a new president or elected official is not the answer. We the people carry the burden. We the people must unite in opposition to the powers that wish to divide us, control us, and manipulate us.
Our fore fathers wanted revolutionary change and they supported their vision with an argument. With a document that we still reference to this day. They debated, compromised, fought, and spent endless hours thinking and writing. The result was the most successful model of fairness and individual liberty that the world has ever seen. And its beauty and functionality has worked, until now. Whether it continues to work, is up to us.