Wednesday, July 3, 2013

on america.



sometime last month i was standing on the Q train as it rattled over the manhattan bridge. it was about the time the sun sets, filling the sky with vibrant pinks, and every passenger has a view of the downtown skyline, the neighboring brooklyn bridge and, off in the distance, small yet visible, lady liberty. i stood there taking in my fellow passengers - white, black, hispanic, asian. everything in between. young and old. gay and straight. friendly, sullen, indifferent. every walk of life seemed to be in my little metal subway car. and i couldn't help but feel a surge of pride as lady liberty came into view; pride for my beautiful, wonderful, messed up country. america is far from perfect - that moment on my train did not magically make my country free from racism or sexism, homophobia or classism, violence or indifference, corruption or inequality. there are many things about america that i find disappointing and frustrating and saddening. but i also think americans live in one of the most unique countries in the world. very few countries have the wealth of ethnicities, religions and differences that america possesses - and all of these differences are something our founding fathers envisioned protecting and equalizing when they first started to sculpt their vision for this great country. independence, liberty and freedom, that last one we take pride in so fiercely - the freedom that america gives to her citizens, differences and all. and, quite fittingly, even in that first structure they established there were faults in the foundation. but it's fitting, i think, as the changes to the foundation and the breaking of the molds they established are just as important to our country's tragic, uplifting, and complicated history as that document that forged our nation. they are as important and vital to america's identity as that foundation those men first cobbled together in 1776.                                                                                                                        so, no, unequivocally no - america is not without it's faults. yet it's also not without an ability to realize these faults, correct course, and right the vision of this great country to be closer and closer and closer yet to its ideal. and as that tiny subway car screeched along, less than a mile away from where my ancestors first entered this country, surrounded by people whose differences seemed as vast and wide as the river we rattled over, i remembered that shared connection. that tiny, unbreakable thread that binds us together, that despite those differences we are still all called americans - and i felt proud.
***
have a happy and wonderful july 4th. here's to our great country.
***
"i saw the statue of liberty. and i said to myself , 'lady, you're such a beautiful. you opened your arms and you got all the foreigners here. give me a chance to prove that i am worth it, to do something, to be someone in america.' " -- greek immigrant, on arriving in new york

6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. lol - the same phrase went through my head while I was writing this.

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  2. 'murica. Happy fourth to you lovely lady :)

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  3. I remember when I went to Scotland I thought I'd never want to leave, but I missed a lot of stuff about America. It has its faults surely, but some great stuff :)

    Great post!

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  4. As ever, well said Colleen. I always love hearing your point of view on the issues that "matter". Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July.

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  5. We are lucky to live in such a great country! The diversity makes us all crazy sometimes, but embracing that diversity is what will continue to make our country grow stronger, better, more united.

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