I’ve always viewed patriotism as an active thing. How can you truly be patriotic if you aren’t paying attention to your own country? Being patriotic, as well, doesn’t mean that I love my country blindly. It means that I’m critical of my country, that I pay attention in order to do my best to make it better, just like so many people who came before me. There are many people who gave their influence, expertise, knowledge, and lives to mold this country into what it is today, and I feel that I owe it to them to do my best to add my voice and thoughts into the american recipe, as it were.
There are certain unalienable rights that should be granted to everybody, bottom line, and yet there are still people in this country who feel unsafe just because they might love someone society deems they shouldn’t, or because their skin is a shade darker than someone else’s or because they worship a different god than others. These things are arbitrary. In the grande and simple scheme of things, people are all people.
There is no “average american citizen”, because our country is made up of so many different people. Our diversity should be what defines us, what holds us together, what holds up as a country to respect. It’s the American melting pot for a reason. Yet there is still a divide. A very, us and them sort of perspective, which I feel to go against the American spirit in the first place.
How can a country ever have unity without diversity?
This means accepting other people for who they are, and judging them based on their merit and character instead of anything else. Diversity means encouraging people to reach for their goals, to be ambitious, to break new ground in new and exciting, constantly evolving ways.
Maybe the most important thing that people can do in today’s society is listen. Listen when somebody tells you they think something is wrong, listen when somebody tells you they are facing an injustice. If a marginalized group of people start to talk and shed light on an issue or struggle that they are facing, it is never a white person’s place to tell them that the struggle they are facing isn’t real. This is when you listen.
Take the black lives matter movement. You have thousands upon thousands of black citizens who are standing up and clearly and peacefully stating that there is a problem in our society. It would be egregious for me, as a white person, to then stand up and say “ oh you’re wrong, sorry. Sit back down”
I can’t speak to the injustices that people of color feel in this country, because I myself am not a person of color, and therefore cannot tell you accurately what it feels like to be one in this country. What I can do, however, is point attention to someone who does. I can listen to what people of color in this country or around the world are saying, and then do my best to help get their words out. I can help them spread their woes, their pain and their suffering in an effort to help them enact change. This is all done of course, in respect. Not that I think I’m better than them, or that I’m the only person who can help, but it is done in the humblest aspect of trying to make life better for someone who may be having a hard time.
Do your best to treat people with respect, to hold your judgement until you have at least had a conversation with them. Don’t let your brain make snap decisions about a stranger based on arbitrary, visual cues. Treat people with kindness, with respect, with decency. Remember everyone on this planet is a human, just like you. Everyone breathes air through their lungs, just as you do, everyone has a beating heart and blood running through their veins, just as you do. Life is hard enough. No need to be cruel.
Representation matters in every conceivable media. Our population is not made up solely of white men, so why is our government?
If you wish to see more diversity, then you must first analyze your motives, intentions, and qualities. You have to do your best to not judge someone by your first impression of them, or by any other qualifying or differentiating factor. You must learn to see the person before you see the color of their skin.
You must open yourself to the world, in order to be a part of the world. It’s important, as a part of the youth of America, for me to realize and consider what my responsibilities to this country are. It’s important for me to constantly be thinking, learning, and improving myself, because this inevitably won’t just benefit myself, but will benefit the country at large. I believe it is largely my responsibility to America to pay attention. It is as simple, and as complicated as that.
Take advantage of what you can. Get your education, go to your local library, read your city’s newspaper. Educate yourself, better yourself, work as hard as you can. The American dream is for everyone, and each American dream looks different. The greatness of this country lies in its diversity. I think it would be to our advantage to embrace our diversity as the only true way to have unity. Bipartisanship, teamwork, immigration, all these things are ridiculously important.