I am a proud American of sorts. Not the conventional type who waves flags on national holidays and can recite the names of all the presidents but a proud American nevertheless. I know the pledge of allegiance, I love American sports and television, and there is nothing much better than a warm summer day in Anytown, USA. I also get annoyed when non-Americans have something nasty to say about America. But something has gone very wrong in my adopted country, something that is hard to defend and justify. This change has occurred over time and those who have experienced living in the country through the years should have seen it coming miles away.
America has come under immense burden brought about corrupt politicians, privatized healthcare, the prison system, and countless other detrimental policies that have been in place for years. The amount of homelessness has skyrocketed over the years. Synthetic drug use and failed housing plans have ravaged communities. Obesity rates have shot up, as have prices of regular household goods as salaries dwindle despite raised minimum wage rates and promises of stability. Mass shootings, college debts, racism, and bipartisan politics are just a few of the other issues facing one of the largest, most vocal and most questionable democracies in the world.
There is a desperate need for change in the US. Violence and bondage have been the lifeblood of American civilization, domination and conquest. Denial, whitewashing, and turning blind eyes to seemingly simple and solvable problems has dug the country into a deeper hole in recent years, one that will be harder to climb out of as time moves forward. As America grapples with its role as a world leader and “superpower”, it is seemingly sacrificing its population for the sake of steamrolling into the future as “number one”.
As I write this speaking from a position of privilege in a Nordic country, where “utopia”, too, has its limits, I cannot help but wonder how America would look if it actually cared about the welfare of its people, not just pitting them in ideological battles inflamed by fear, oppression, and politics. Some answers to the country’s problems are easier to find than others.
Now, as riots take hold of major cities across the US, brought about by State administered violence and murder, the country is reacting to only one of the many struggles it is facing. In a country where freedom is a point of pride, there is truly not much liberty except for a select few. People have the power to make change happen, through voting, and individual and group action. In a country where businessmen make scientific decisions and run the country based on personal preferences and whims, change in reality is a long shot at the mercy of a few.
When I was in fifth grade, we had a classroom discussion about different governments. We were given flash cards with different types of rule, such as aristocracies, republics, monarchies, democracies, and so on. When asked what kind of government America was, I shouted “Oligarchy” jokingly, not really knowing or understanding what that meant. My classmates laughed as ten-year old’s do, and I was proud of my joke. Little did I know that more than twenty-five years later, I would be pondering my “joke” and wondering if the country is now, indeed, run by a few people who have the power to make real and impactful decisions.
Fourth of July is around the corner and America will celebrate another year of independence. As the country spirals out of control, it will take collective action to reverse course. The people at the top will likely remain there, but it is up to the people at the bottom to make themselves heard, to rise up, and truly take action as proud Americans.