Sunday, July 3, 2016

What have I ever done to be "proud" to be American?

Really, what have I done? Nothing really. I was born there. That's it. OK, maybe I do something. Pay taxes. Memorize the pledge of allegiance. Have a preference for certain sports. But I don't really do anything to contribute to this nation that is the USA. People that serve in the military, they have a right to be proud. People that represent the USA in their jobs have a right to be proud. People that actually contribute to the the safety, education and well-being of other Americans can say "I'm proud to be American" if they so feel. The words "I'm proud to be an American" have never seriously come out of my mouth. Oh, and I just remembered, the people that emigrate from their native countries to the USA, and go through a long and tedious process to "become" American citizens have contributed to this country. They actually do something to become American, even if it only means making their way through the yucky bureaucratic steps and getting the proper paperwork to complete the process. They sacrificed something by choice to "become" American.
What I really feel right now in my life is grateful to be American. I'm deeply grateful. I actually feel like a leech sometimes because of the benefits my US Passport gives me. I'm treated differently throughout the world. Sometimes its good, sometimes its bad. But mostly its good. I can travel to a lot of countries because of the passport I possess. It's not the best one in the world for travel, but its pretty good. On the other hand, I get unwanted attention sometimes because I'm American. I went on a jog this morning around Taksim, the absolute center of everything Istanbul, just because that's where our airbnb is. I was hesitant because I know Turkish men in the Taksim area are used to seeing "yabanci" women and they only think two things = sex and money. So I went on my jog knowing that I'd have to deal with possible advances from men. I put on my best bitch face and went early. Fortunately, I only had to deal with three guys running alongside me for a while until they saw that my pissed off face wasn't going away. They fell back. Note: Turkish men usually only act like this in touristy areas. They have been very respectful to me and most maintain their distance everywhere else in Turkey. 
I'm grateful for the ease of life I've enjoyed in America, the access to great education, the options of self-realization that are there for me and the inability to go hungry there. I'm grateful that there is freedom of religion there and I hope it stays that way. I'm grateful the LGBTQ population can have a parade and not be imprisoned because of their sexual orientation. I'm grateful for the beauty of nature throughout the country, the opportunity to access it by roads, and I'm glad that the government protects and preserves it. I'm grateful that there are public beaches there and that I can just walk out to the water and jump in without having to pay entrance fees. I'm grateful for so many things about America. But most of all, I'm grateful that my American status permits me to meet other people on this Earth easier. That is what life is all about. Making our lives livable and
helping others make their lives livable. Can I say it any better than Thomas Jefferson? Nope.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I'm not proud to be American, I'm grateful. Maybe someday I'll be proud, but not yet.    


negin said...

That's true. Happy independence day Christine. I will miss you and your beautiful family.

Marcelo Rod Da Silva said...