On the Promise of Stability in America

Posted by Drew M. Michigan

This piece picks apart the promise of stability in America, exposes the shortcomings of this promise, and elaborates on the actions taken by people to make the promise a reality and their impact on the people around them.

Today many Americans lack a constant. Many lack stability and normality in their lives. Often stability is entitled to people. Often it is not given to people who need it. Often people are indifferent and/or don't see the problem. Often people don't go beyond the status quo. There are some however, who choose to use their occupation to provide stability, in many different forms, to others. My American Creed is witnessing my family, especially my parents, make sure that others have stability.

I'm in my father's courtroom. I've just witnessed the probationers coming before my dad. They are drug-addicts, alcoholics, and people without their licenses. Many are poor and from the city of Detroit. Many have tough home lives and resort to drinking. Many have to sell drugs to get by. Many have trouble finding a job or don't work at all. People drive while intoxicated and get their driver's license taken away, and because there is no effective transportation system from Detroit to its surrounding cities, they have to drive to work. They don’t have money for car repairs so they get pulled over. The officer notices that they are driving while their license is suspended so they are sent to see my dad. They face time in jail or probation. My father is calm and collected at the bench. Each person he sees he tries to help. He says to them things like "you can do this" or "I believe in you". He tries to get their licenses back so that they can work. He tries to get them sober so that they can get the charge off their record. He tries to be accessible and sympathetic while still maintaining authority. He is not quick to condemn. He can be stern but just. He tries to go beyond the status quo. He tries everyday to keep people afloat, to provide some sort of stability so that people are off the streets. He is a constant in the probationers' lives. He makes sure that they make good choices in their lives, which directly impacts their safety and stability. He does more. He goes above and beyond. He is more than just another white judge. Many of the people who see him are African-American, a group that is disenfranchised and discriminated against, a group subject to mass and disproportionate incarceration and police brutality. I would think that because of this, the sight of my father sitting on a bench would be intimidating. Historically the justice system has not always applied to them, but my father makes sure that it does. My dad makes sure that the promise of a just justice system is seen for everyone. He makes sure that the justice system works.

During my freshman year I was unwittingly part of a social experiment that involved the use of a five-dollar bill. The maker of the documentary would set a five-dollar bill on the ground and see what people would do. Many pocketed it. Two guys practically tackled each other for it. I was one of the ones that tried to find its owner. I didn’t pocket it. I knew that I did not need that money. My living conditions didn’t require me to pick it up. I also knew that it didn’t belong to me. If I had kept it, I would’ve taken something from someone. I would be stealing. I knew that if someone needed it I would be taking away a necessity. I could’ve taken a lunch and/or a bus fare away. So, I looked around for the owner, and the maker of the documentary revealed himself. I am not spoiled. I know that money has worth and is the source of sustainability for many. I know that there are many people who need it more than I need it. So, I did the right thing and looked for the owner. I try to stay the same. I will not change, and that’s something that people can count on. I hope that I have built up a reputation of being a person of integrity. I hope that people can always count on me to do the right thing. I can provide that in their lives. I can be a constant in their lives.

My parents were both born in the west side of the state of Michigan in roughly the same region. Both had to move around a lot as kids because their parents were looking for job opportunities. My mother moved to Iowa and then to Lake Orion. My father moved to Bay City to Troy to Rochester Hills. Both started and ended in the same area. Both were aspiring young adults. Both attended prestigious universities. Fate brought them together. My father met my mother's friend while working at a summer camp, who then set up my father on a blind date with my mother, and the rest is history. I only had to move once: a couple of blocks away. My sisters never had to move. My parents made sure that this one thing was constant. We never would have tears well up in our eyes as we say goodbye to our friends. We would never have to assimilate into a new school. My parents worked so hard to support us so that we don't have to go through the stress of rebuilding our lives. We don't have to worry about money. I thank them for that. I can live my life without fear of us going poor. We live comfortably, but we don't live in a mansion. We don't live an extravagant life. My family is stable. Sadly, this isn’t the case for all Americans. The promise of a good life is seldom kept for many Americans. Even today there are setbacks and roadblocks put up that prevent people from taking advantage of the opportunity. It’s much harder for a minority group to live a stable life in America. However, these barriers are man-made, so there’s still a chance that we can change. We can take the idea of America and make it real. Instead of idolizing America solely in theory, we can celebrate America in practice.

My mom works for a non-profit firm that helps people manage their financials. My grandma works as a nurse at a dermatology clinic. My grandpa works at a small lumber shop. Each person works to provide stability for others. My mom helps people manage their money. My grandma helps people with their skin problems. My grandpa helps provide quality lumber. All of these occupations help assure people. This gives them something to count on. People in America should be able to live with an assurance that they will have constants in their lives. People in America shouldn’t have to worry about money or the justice system. People who live in America should be able to live a comfortable and stable life.

Published on Jun 10, 2018
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