The America I grew up in doesn’t exist. I would say anymore, except that in my realization that it no longer exists, I have found that the America I grew up in never existed at all. The idea of America I had growing up was just that: an idea. I don’t know if anyone else experienced things the way I did, if asked I would have to say they did not since everyone has their own perspective on things, even when put into the same situation. Nature versus nurture and all that.
The truth is every single experience you had in your life, every single word that has been spoken to you by anyone you meet, even in passing, becomes ingrained in you and therefore becomes a part of what makes you, you. The sum of my experiences has made me a person who was afraid, a person who didn’t want to speak my mind for fear of offense, a person who thought that offending someone was the worst thing someone could do.
I grew up in a politically correct mindset reinforced by institutions of our society like my school, my church and even my home. The only problem I have with this idea is that it does not work. The only people who mind what they say are people who would hardly think to say anything controversial in the first place. They don’t even think outside the politically correct way. People need to avoid political correctness – it makes us all liars. Say what you really think. If what you really think makes other people dislike you, then you have two choices. Either deal with the fact that you are greatly disliked and continue to live in your lonely little hate world, or, change the way you think.
I grew up liberal. Again, this mindset was imprinted on me from a young age, as a white girl growing up in the shadow of the Capital. I grew up believing in a Democratic system that was honorable and just. But then, I just grew up.
All of the problems society faces, global and local society alike, can be traced back to one simple fact: human beings are terrible. People are selfish, fearful of what they do not know or understand, people get comfortable with what they know and build their entire personality on a few things they learned as children, never realizing or caring that there may be another perspective, one just as valid as theirs.
You only believe what you believe because you were told to. By your parents, by the media, by your church, by your school. Everything you think you know is just something someone else, a fallible human person, told you. But you were young, you took it at face value and accepted that your elders knew better, your teachers knew better, your preacher knew better.
Well I am here to tell you one thing: They Don’t. All of these people are just that; people. they too were told everything they believe in and think by other people. Their opinions are not more correct or incorrect than yours. The conclusions you have come to over the period of our life are the product of a long equation of opinions, facts and beliefs of the people you are surrounded by and the media you have access to.
This might sound rude, or upsetting, like I am saying you do not have your own mind or your own thoughts. Let me assure you that this is not my intention. You are your own person. I just ask that you realize that everyone else on this planet is their own person too, and just like you, they think the things they think and know the things they know the exact same way you do. You may have drawn different conclusions as a result of your different life experiences, but you are no more correct than they are. Once you realize that, there is no end to the possibilities of genuine understanding you can come to have.
I realized that my opinions are just that: opinions. The only validity in those opinions is my own belief in them. I do not ask that you share my opinions. But, I will share them with you as I have the right to do so. As do you.
I do not identify as a democrat, a republican, a liberal or a conservative. I do not identify with being an “American”, yes I was born in America and hold American citizenship. However the America that I, in my heart, belong to – does not exist.
It is an idea.
Ideas can be powerful if enough people believe in them. The key to all this is to realize that no matter how many people stand behind an idea, have a fervent belief in it, or how badly they may want to make that idea a reality, none of this makes it the right idea. Ideas can become reality if put into practice by enough people. Even small groups of people can create their own reality out of their shared believe in an idea. The problem occurs when too many people share the wrong idea.
The best example, and most relevant one I can think of at the moment is HATE. Hate is an idea. The idea that you are better than someone or something, that you harbor negative emotions toward it/them and that causes you to hate them. Then you find a bunch of other Haters, who validate your idea that you hate them. Then this group of people begin actively hating on whatever or whoever they jointly hate.
All I have to say is, ENOUGH. Enough. No, seriously, STOP. Your idea is terrible. Your idea of America is terrible. I do not want to live in that country. MY America, the America I so desperately wish I grew up in, and could live in and raise children in, the America that I would be PROUD to say I was a citizen of, the America that would make me feel like an American – Does Not Hate. Yes, it protects its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic, or rather the citizens are capable of their own protection and band together when necessary.
My America is tolerant. No one person has the right to tell another what to do. Yes, there are laws agreed upon by a majority (not paid for by special interests and lobbyists). There are plenty of laws we can get 99% agreement on. These should pretty much be the only laws. Like, hey, don’t kill people. Don’t steal shit that isn’t yours. Don’t pollute air and waters that other people need to breath and drink. Don’t force yourself on someone who doesn’t want you. Basically – do no harm. These are things we all agree increase our safety as a group (the group known as Americans). There are other things we can agree on that can become societal norms but have no business being laws.
My America is kind. Not liking something someone else is doing is fine. You do not have to like it. You can even say that you don’t like it, you can avoid being around it. However, you do not get to be upset if someone thinks you are an asshole because you don’t like it. They have just as much of a right to think you are an asshole as you have the right to not like what they are doing. Not liking what someone else does, does NOT give you the right to take over their lives and ensure they cannot do the thing you don’t like, simply because you don’t like it. GROW UP.
My America is Christian. The REAL Christianity. Love thy neighbor. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Which means – and get ready for this because it is a little radical – LOVE other people. All of them. Do not judge other people. It is not your place to do so. Have your own personal relationship with God, your relationship with God is none of my business, that is between you and God. The ONLY thing Christians should worry about is their own personal relationship with God. If you look in the mirror and see a person who helps others, gives to the needy and the poor, does everything they have the power to do to ensure the people around them are happy and healthy, or at least have a non-judgmental someone to come to when they are in crisis, you are a Christian in My America.
If instead you see someone who hoards money, who scoffs at the needy, who kicks people when they are down in the name of capitalism and “good business”, you are NOT a Christian, you are a douche.
My America promotes individualism, creativity, education, science, mathematics, community, family, love, friendship, understanding, joy, perseverance, love, fellowship, wonder, imagination, free thinking, freedom and love. Nowhere in this description are the words hate, war, bigotry, separatism, capitalism, hate, chauvinism, any ism, or hate.
Is this not an America we can all agree on? An idea we can all get behind? It only takes a majority belief in an idea to create reality. Know the idea, live the idea and the idea becomes real. Come with me, My America is already GREAT, we just need to get there.