Wednesday, July 4, 2007
(Re)Born on the Fourth of July
Some-teen years ago today, I sat on a bouncing patio chair slowly eating a Chicago-style hot dog and digesting the fact that I had just become an American citizen.
I had put quite a bit of thought into the idea of becoming an American. I didn't need to do it, but I had wanted to. Having left a country I had considered corrupt and unaccountable, I embraced--very idealistically--the idea of what America was. I knew it wasn't always pretty, but there were laws that promised everyone was equal. Even if it took a while for people to realize that everyone, really did mean everyone, regardless of their race, religion or creed. I loved that. Everyone equal and accountable before the law. For that, I had stood in a gymnasium full of excited people and pledged to uphold and defend those values.
I made that pledge, despite memories of my previous life in this country. I had always been the "Eye-ranian" girl and the raghead, burner of flags and hostage taker, despite my age and lack of access to flammables. I had been beaten and ostracized; mocked and humiliated for most of my childhood. Yet, with that knowledge and memory, I still decided to move forward, because I was sure my past had been an unfortunate exception. This was the land of the Constitution, Freedom and Ideals; and I wanted to be a part of all of those things.
Today, I wonder where my country is headed. The Constitution a piece of paper, dragged out for show when convenient; but seemingly under attack by people unworthy of upholding its values. Our freedoms are being eroded everyday, and few people notice. The ideals that make this country the envy of people everywhere, are giving way to cynicism and apathy. We may wrap ourselves in the colors of the flag, but we barely remember what they mean or how to defend them. There is no longer accountability, and not all people are equal before it. Our corruption, is not so different from that of others. How did we get here?
There is a sadness in this anniversary for me, and hope. Hope that this too, is an unfortunate exception.