At twenty-five years old, I am about to take my first trip abroad. I will soon fly to Japan to meet my girlfriend’s family for the first time. With their blessings, I will ask her to marry me on New Year’s Day—her birthday. If she agrees, we will have to wait at least two years. She lives in the Midwest, near most of my family, where she is working on her PhD. I recently moved to the West Coast for my first job out of college.
On the positive side, I now live about five hours away from my older brother and his family. I take advantage of this to visit as often as possible. His three boys (ages six, three, and one) are beautiful, happy, and smart. Their joy is contagious. I drive home exhausted, but happy. I look ahead to a time when I will become a father and ask myself a difficult question: where do I want to raise my children?
I love this country. It’s my home. This country was built on the revolutionary principles of freedom and equality. It was built by ingenuity, hard work, and dedication of the great Americans before us. They worked hard to put our nation’s greatest resource—its people—to the difficult task of making the world a better place to live.
But it seems like freedom and equality have changed. I once believed that freedom came with citizenship, but it now seems to come with being a consumer. I once believed that our nation was making great strides toward real equality. Now it seems that my dollar is my ballot, and I no longer have the same say as my fellow citizens.
It breaks my heart to laugh and play with my nephews, and to imagine doing the same with the children who will call me Father. I fear that raising them in America today will teach them that a person’s value has a dollar sign next to it. It seems that our American spirit of ingenuity, hard work, and dedication is being exploited in the name of profit. I fear living in a country that will first treat my children like paying customers, and then treat them like paid employees. I ask myself if they would be better off growing up somewhere else. I ask myself if there is a place where people are valued not for the revenue they can generate, but for the joy they can share.
I believe there is hope for the US. Each day I look for ways to help people who really need it. I challenge my friends and family to do the same. I ask them to keep me on track when I forget what’s important. I believe that compassion will make this country a safe place to raise children. I believe our nation’s greatest resource is still its people. I believe the world will be a better place when we generate more love than revenue.
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