What America Means to Me

By Nicole Kubinski, Award winning essayist

Staten Island, NY

When people hear United States of America they usually think about freedom. However, I feel like this illusion of ‘freedom’ is overplayed. I definitely feel like Americans have more rights than other countries, but do we really have as much as they say?

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Our phone conversations and internet actions are all tracked by the NSA. We have the largest amount of incarcerated citizens in the world. We are searched and forced through a metal detector every time we board a plane or enter a government building. We have cameras filming our every movement from every angle in every city. Is this being free?

Is that what the founding fathers had in mind? George Washington had high hopes for this country and I believe we can still meet them. In his Farewell Address, he set a very clear objective; to avoid splitting into political parties. He was convinced that doing so would tear people apart. It is obvious now more than ever that he was correct. Obstructionism has replaced compromise.

Filibustering has replaced debate. Anger has replaced reason and hatred has replaced patriotism. In my opinion, it was not only the splitting into political parties that tore people away from each other. Ever since the birth of this country, even before that, it was natural for European men to ‘own’ slaves.

Slavery continued in America until 1865, but even after that the white men continued to look down upon men of other races. Even though people claim that ‘we are all equal’ and ‘race doesn’t matter anymore’, this is not true. It is evident in today’s society that races have stereotypes for one another. The front page of every paper and the lead story on every newscast makes this obvious.

Race is still a very derisive thing in this country. Even men and women have been pitted against each other. This can lead to unfair treatment between groups, and it already has begun. Terrorist attacks have been committed, slurs have been used, and people have been killed. It’s time to wake up and smell the admittedly foul-smelling roses America, some serious changes need to be made. Before you say or even think something about another person because of religion, gender, or skin color, think about how your views could affect them.

Imagine if your thoughts, combined with people with the same opinion, could lead to a massive ‘anti-___’ movement that killed innocent people. Hating gays or the poor or the disabled or any group is not what this country is supposed to be about.

This country also claims to be the land of opportunity but instead the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The working people get less and less. Our government is controlled by those who have the most . This can lead to them forgetting about the rest.

This has already happened and will continue happening if we don’t prevent it. Together we have to fight to make things better. We have to put aside our differences . We have to realize that we have more in common than we think we do. Hopefully in the future I will be able to say that America means change for the better, but so far America means change that needs to occur.

This change is already beginning to happen. People find flaws with society and try to bring attention to the problem. The more people open up their eyes, the more hope we have. The more people that take action, the better off we will be. The more people that participate in our governing , the more it will become what it was intended to be .

A government by the people, for the people. What does America mean to me? It means freedom. It means opportunity but mostly it means hope. Let’s make it that way again.

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