God Bless America

The Fourth of July is a day of American exceptionalism. Blanketed in the Stars, Americans feel a sense of pride in living in a free, democratic country. With bombs bursting in the air, Americans declare their freedom from the world’s tyranny.

Recent polls, however, suggest that many Americans fear that democracy is in crisis and that we are becoming pessimistically divided. This Fourth of July, I‘m not that upset with being 8,000 miles away from the United States.

On the other side of the world, America looks different. Frequent gun violence is nonexistent. Access to affordable medical care is readily accessible. Freedoms are freely available. For all our American Exceptionalism, the US is exceptionally average compared to the rest of the world.

I have great pride in being American. It’s my motherland, home to countless people whom I love. Every day away from my homeland, I can see how its allure and veil are thinning. Our system of checks and balances seem imbalanced. Our freedoms coming at high costs. Our bill of rights seem to be taking the wrong turn. Every day spent away from America is a reminder of Benjamin Franklin’s words, “A democracy if you can keep it.”

A question that I have been wrestling with for some time that seems fitting to reflect upon today is a question I’ve been asked a couple of times by students, “Are you a Native American, or is your family part of the settlers?”

“Well, I’m native to America, in that I and the previous few generations were born in America,” I respond, “but I come from a line of people who immigrated to the United States.”

“Oh so, what about the native Red Indians (this is the term they use to describe Native Americans),” they continue to ask, “are there many of them remaining?”

“Unfortunately, no,” I struggle to tell the truthful response, “many of them died or were killed off, and the few remaining are relegated to select territories.”

It’s unique telling the story of American history to people not from the United States. To talk about our history of slavery with people whose ancestors we stole. To discuss gun violence with people in a country with sensible gun laws. To rationalize our two-party policies with people who find our political arguments laughable.

I love America, but as I spend more time away from it, I realize how much she has to learn. Countries with histories far older than ours look at our problems as trivial trifles, having conquered those decisions long ago. Countries still in their infancy look at our concerns as learning moments constructing systems that circumvent our errors.

No country is perfect. Today, on the Fourth of July, I pray that as the fireworks illuminate the sky, they may guide us towards new stars of hope and freedom.

Bless America.
The land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her.
To become the country that truly is a land where all people can know its promise of freedom.


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