What does it mean to be an American? To be an American is to uphold the United States Constitution, to pursue life, liberty, and justice for all, and to support the idea that all men (and women) are created equal. To be an American is to dream of comfort and to simply wish to live and to die with ease. The ideals of Americans lie in our rights and responsibilities, and the idea that our government not only governs us, but we govern our government.
In America, we line our children up on the daily, and have them repeat the chant that our country is one nation, under god, with liberty and justice for all. This is the opposite of what America stands for - independence. We are told what to believe from the moment we are born, and we are often made to pledge our allegiance to a county before we can even read. The ideas of life, liberty, and justice for all should be desired ideals - not something that we are forced to repeat in the classroom, but something that we believe in, based on our own right to.
The pledge of allegiance is often read by tired children, in a monotonous voice that repeats the same things every day as we go through our daily motions, the same thing, the same way, every day. We, the people, are often not as enthusiastic about our patriotism as we were one hundred years ago. We often may feel as though the balance of control between government and common man is no longer equal. We may often feel now that we are not given the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and our trust in our nation is wrinkling like the flags we robotically pray to. We are forced to promise and give ourselves away to a country through a disguised patriotic poem, and as our country lies to us, we lie right back to it as we give this pledge of allegiance. We no longer stand for the national anthem out of a love for our country, but out of fear of being ridiculed or singled out by our peers for "protesting" something if we decide to do otherwise.
As we focus on all of our sorrows, our lack of money, our incarceration rates, struggles with immigration laws, our low employment - we lose sight of what we have gained over the years. We forget the developments that we have underwent, our freedoms that we have gained. Our complaints and demands for change allow us to overlook all that we've created, and as we sit in a classroom of multiple different types of kids, of multiple different types of colors, we forget to think about the days when that would not have been possible.
Everyone being divided by opinions and differing political perspectives leads to a lack of progression, a lack of unity or a sense of community, and a lack of discussion due to not wanting arguments. Free speech is one of our founding concepts that make the American Creed, and makes America what it has always been since it's foundation. A lack of discussion leads to a lack of correspondence of ideas, of coming to a common ground. This is the United States, and there has been a low frequency in the feeling of being united.
People often forget how a democracy should be run. We should be in control of our government. Our government should not be in control of us. We have the ability to write to our government officials, our mayors, and our local congressman about our concerns. We have the right to peaceful protests and free speech. We have the right to organize signed petitions for our concerns, and the ability to write blogs and essays to publish on websites like the American Creed site. So many people these days don't even register to vote, yet they still find themselves complaining about the state of our nation. We may need to begin with baby steps, but we won't change anything if we don't take any action at all. We are not invisible, and our voices need to be heard.