American values, what comes to your mind when you think about those two words? Listed in the United States Constitution, we are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though these things can be seen as values, most people think of religion, family, culture, freedom and maybe for most of Americans, money. These values are what shape not only the individuals in America but the country in a whole. Though these values continually shape us we tend to take these values for granted sometimes, especially the freedom, even more so now we are hearing of people being deprived of freedom and basic human rights.
Do we stop to think about what our values really are, how they’ve changed, and if they’ve changed at all? Do we ever stop to think we use our values in an evil way, or our values have made us into people we don’t even recognize anymore. We are now seeing an era of hatred in my opinion, I feel as though we believe people who are not like us don’t deserve these rights. What are we saying when we act the way we do, when we push other of different creed, race, gender, and sexual identity? Our country as a whole has come a long way, there is no doubt about it, but we have also stepped back in many ways. We should look into these values in a deeper and more meaningful sense and understand how people, like stated earlier, are able to use them for bad deeds.
When you look up American values on any website, many answers can pop up. One answer you may see is freedom. Freedom, by definition, is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”. In this country, we are able to speak freely and do as we please, as long as it’s not harmful to anyone else, without the fear of being held back by a political or government stance. Though this is an amazing thing, have we lost sight of real freedom? Think about all the different cultures, races, and minorities that are constantly held back still do this day. Have we really reached freedom for all? Do we get blindsided by the freedom we possess and not think about others who are still being persecuted and harmed for speaking their minds?
Another value that tends to come up quite often is freedom of religion. We are able to be religious however we please and worship whomever we please. It is something many other countries do not have and it something we take for granted. Could you imagine your whole life being forced to follow something you know nothing about? Could you imagine having second thoughts about who and what you worship but having the fear of being persecuted or even worse killed? We are able to have these thoughts and express them freely, though others may or may not believe what you believe in you still have the freedom and power to change that part of your life at any point. Even though I may not agree with some of the religions people may believe, at least we are able to have the ability to chose.
The values listed above are what I’d have to say the core two values that come to mind. Though they may be the most “basic” values to talk about, in today's world we see people who are not free and live their lives in hinderance. We should take a step back and look at who we really are as Americans and how we choose to use these values to our advantage. We have come along way but we've also taken some steps back, I’d like to believe that we are able to become more open. With all of this in mind we need to remember to believe in others freedom of speech, be kind and respectful to others, and if you see someone being hindered or persecuted of their right, I hope you have the respect of change to do the right thing. That's what it means so be an American.