For such a young country, we certainly have a lot of history to ponder on this Fourth of July. I am a huge fan of early American history and, while there is a lot to be proud of in our founding fathers, there are a lot of warts to be overlooked as well. No generation is perfect and everyone has their faults, but there are a few big things that concern me as to where our country is headed.
Our political process is so imbued with sensationalism, scandal and sound bites that no actual information is imparted by the general media. What happened to the Lincoln-Douglas style debates? Do you think the modern American would be able to stomach 3 hour long debates? Or really any real discussion of the issues?
I used to believe that the rest of the world looked to America, not as just a superpower both in economic and military might, but also as a friend in need. A country that held high standards for itself and hoped to help others achieve the same as well. The kind of friend you look up to as a model of behavior, leadership and strength and someone to lean on for comfort or even protection.
I haven't felt this pride in my country in almost a decade and it saddens me to see us slipping down even faster into the abyss of self-absorption and self-righteousness. I am, quite frankly, embarrassed by the current administration and how the rest of the world must view Americans. I only hope that others looking in don't think that all of us are the spoiled brats our popular media so loves to follow.
More frightening than the lack of acknowledgement that we've stepped down as a global leader by the leaders of this country is the complete apathy of its citizens. It angers me that, as a country, we sit idly by, letting the privileged few decide the fate of this nation. Yes, I realize it's called democracy, but is it really democratic if hardly anyone bothers to vote? Or if those in power take advantage and erode some of the basic principles of our nation such as civil rights and right to privacy?
When you think back to the blood, sweat and death that generations before us have endured to create a sovereign nation based on equality, freedom from religious persecution, and the right to achieve what is within our own abilities, it is a shame that our generation sits on our hands and, honestly, doesn't give a crap anymore as to whether or not these foundations are preserved.
What about all those Americans that fought against slavery and for civil rights and for suffrage for all Americans not just the landed, educated or wealthy? Why don't we take advantage of this gift and vote? It's fairly ridiculous when you think about it. If we were to go back and tell those who so desperately fought for the right to vote that future generations wouldn't even bother voting for president, let alone local elections, do you think they would be incredulous?
So, please, if you have any respect left for this country, pay attention to how we represent ourselves to the rest of the world. Fight to obtain information about how this country is run. Take advantage of the rights we have to make your say known in how you want this country governed. Then, and only then, can we instill a sense of ownership of our government, a sense of civic duty and participation and a pride in our country not just by its citizens, but by the rest of the world.