This I Believe

Lane - Fremont, California
Entered on November 11, 2008

I’ve never been one to write down my thoughts in a diary, or blog about my day, but recent events in my life have led me to write this note, if only for my own benefit.

I am nervous about my future, and the future of my country. I feel that Americans have lost the ability to respect each other. Daily, I hear complaints and whines about a variety of issues, from politics to drama on the schoolyard. We attack each other openly, behind each others backs, and anonymously, all for the sake of what? Division? Let me explain.

We attack each other openly primarily on political issues. Some said Michelle Obama issued unpatriotic remarks when she said she had never been proud of America until her husband ran for president, because he offered the promise of hope and change to the nation. I’ll be the first to admit, I wholeheartedly agree with her, for the exact same reasons.

As Edward R. Murrow said, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

America was founded on the right to voice grievances against your government. Read the First Amendment, its there. If following the ideals of our founding fathers is unpatriotic, then I don’t know what is.

But semantics aren’t the point. The point is we as Americans are dividing ourselves, and its visible for all to see. I dont mean the maps on the news showing red states and blue states, I mean on an individual level. We have allowed our beliefs to become so skewed that they influence every aspect of our life.

I’ll use an example that’s close to home. On November 4th, California passed Proposition 8, an amendment to our state constitution that redefined marriage as between a man and a woman. I have neighbors, family friends, that are a lesbian couple. They married less than a month ago, and now the state may dictate whether or not they can legally be married. If two people are in love and have made a life commitment to each other, what right does the state have to dictate whether or not they can marry. Homosexuals have the same legal rights as the rest of us, so why on this issue have we segregated them and sent them to the back of the proverbial bus?

I am scared I cannot trust my fellow Americans. I am scared that we as a people have become so misinformed that we can be led like sheep whichever way the media wants our thoughts to go, be they liberal or conservative. I am scared that McCarthyism is making a resurgence in my country.

McCarthyism is named after U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, who fostered incredible amounts of doubt into the American populous about the political affiliations of prominent Americans. Also known as the Red Scare, McCarthy headed numerous Senate hearings and investigations into whether or not certain Americans were communist. Do you see a parallel when Obama was accused of being a socialist, and of being a terrorist sympathizer, if not agent, due to his mixed background and name?

I’m scared. The McCain campaign did such a good job of fear mongering during the 2008 presidential campaign that in the back of my mind I’m beginning to doubt our president elect, even though he hasn’t even been inaugurated. Their tactics were so divisive, I’m divided internally, with warring factions vying for control of my beliefs.

I dream for a day when we can be honest with each other. Don’t complain about something without offering a solution. If you aren’t willing to fix a problem, don’t voice an opinion. I dream for a day when the respect I feel for my fellow Americans is reciprocated. Too often, I give a smile and am rewarded with a scowl, offer a friendly comment and am returned with a negative view. I dream for a day when I can voice my opinion, and not be shot down as a liberal, but engaged in a conversation as an American.

I don’t believe this dream is that far out of reach. I believe we have simply lost sight of what we each offer to our nation. We are Americans. Out of all the times in our history, now is the most crucial for us to come together whether we agree with each other or not. I believe that is what our founding fathers asked of each other, and that is what has created this great nation, which I am proud to call my home.

In fact, I offer you a simple proposition. I will respect you, and treat you with dignity, regardless of your beliefs, if you are willing to treat me the same way.

America, I am waiting.