I want to make this perfectly clear: I love this country. I am so proud of and grateful to the generations of men and women who fought—either in our military, police/fire forces, or in other “civilian” ways—to preserve our freedom, and to those who continue to do so. We have the best in the world due to them, and this is not a reflection on these brave men and women whatsoever.
My heart still jumps leaps and bounds when I hear our National Anthem. I get choked up each time because while other countries may not agree, I firmly believe that ours is the most beautiful anthem in the world. “The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” How can your very soul, you very existence, not beam with pride when you think of the sacrifices so many have made and will make just so that we can continue to be free of tyranny and injustice?
That being said, I am so ashamed of the direction this country has taken within the past couple of decades or so.
This disgusts me, as I know full-well how much I sound like my know-it-all father (I mean that with love) right now, but the United States is swirling down that giant proverbial toilet as we speak. He’s right on that.
It seems as if every day I’m hearing a new story about another school shooting. Or movie theatre shooting. Or mall shooting. Many people argue that a country without guns (with the exception of police and military) would make us safer. I don’t necessarily agree with this, as I’m of the belief that the wrong people are going to find guns no matter what, and depriving the right people of their right to protect themselves and their families with their weapons is a very slippery slope. But I do understand the outrage and the fear. Everyone relates to that. Even those who want to keep their guns partially do it out of fear. Both sides of the fence have that commonality.
On a lesser note, my husband, a teacher, comes home from school every day with a new story of how some kid came into the classroom with the most horrid smell attached to him/her, simply because his/her parents didn’t give a damn enough to insist that he/she take a shower and wash his/her clothes. So many kids only come to school to get their free breakfasts and lunches because they don’t have anything to eat at home. He, and other teachers I know, reveal times where kids’ parents come in to parent/teacher conferences high or drunk. And the state does nothing to take them out of these caustic environments. These children come home at all hours of the day and night (if they even have homes) because their parents neither know nor care where they are. Drugs and alcohol and their own demented lives are more important than those of their progeny.
Companies are taking clear advantage of their employees by reaping record-high profits and paying their dedicated workers, the “little people,” and unfair wage. The cost of nearly everything has drastically increased in the past 20 years+, but wages remain stagnant. If you consider inflation, wages are dramatically lower than they were in the past. People can’t afford to eat healthily because high-calorie “junk food” is cheaper than fruits, veggies and lean meats. Who doesn’t know folks who have had to decide between heating their homes and buying the medicine they need to be comfortable, to survive even?
Companies like Monsanto consider profits over the health of the Earth. The fruits and veggies we can barely afford as-is are covered in pesticides that have been proven to make us sick, unless one is lucky enough to be able to afford organic produce. Factory farms cram in animals, who end up standing up to their ankles in their own feces, and corporations like Purdue and Tyson expect us to eat the meat that is produced from these poor creatures…and many of us do so, instead of supporting local farms where the animals are treated with dignity and are allowed to roam free until their final breath.
We crowd into Wal-Marts at Christmas like lunatics, just to get an extra $5 off the latest video game system, instead of remembering what the holiday season should truly mean.
Politicians fight constantly, unable to agree on bills that should pass…but they are too busy arguing over some tiny detail of it that really doesn’t matter. They do this to the point of shutting down our government, not paying salaries to hundreds of thousands of government employees who depend on a paycheck and causing major headaches for everyone.
Single, teen mothers are nearly worshipped on television, when in reality, many of them cannot afford to give their children what they really need and depend on the government to provide them with free food, diapers, medical care—you name it. Not all, but far too many. Birth control is readily available and most of it can be accessed for free, but God forbid we hold teens (boys AND girls) accountable for their own bodies.
We actively do things to pollute our water, our land, our animals and ourselves…all to make a buck.
My God, when will it stop? When are we as a country going to wake up and stop the madness? Organizations such as Occupy Wall Street form but quickly fizzle out. The Green movement is gaining only a negligible amount of ground. We continue to purchase cleaning products and cosmetics tested on animals instead of exploring options (most are even reasonably-priced and work just as well, if not better!) that don’t harm living things. What happened to a hard day’s work equaling a fair day’s wage? What happened to company loyalty to employees, to providing benefits that will ensure their best people stick around until they retire? What happened to the 9-5 workday, and most places being closed on Sundays so they could dedicate some time to their families? Why are working on vacation, or not spending the few vacation days we have actually resting?
What happened to parents actually caring about what grades their kids earned? What happened to not passing children on to the next grade until they passed the one they were in? What happened to curfews, so that parents knew where their children were? What happened to folks not having kids until they can afford them, and even then, only having the number of children they can reasonably afford without government assistance? Why can’t we have more focus on mental health, so that the mentally ill are provided help before they can open fire on innocent people? What happened to political bipartisanship, the days where politicians worked together to achieve a common—and a common-sense!—goal that would truly benefit their constituents?
There are plenty of answers to these questions, but those who have the means to fix these problems choose not to do so, so I fear those days are long gone.
And soon, I hope to be long gone, off to another land that promotes more of the ideals important to me. I hope such a place exists, somewhere out there. In the meantime, I will continue to sound like my father. The difference is that now, I’m proud of it.