The proud citizen is completely convinced of her/his right to attainment. The green land of opportunity has lasted in the American mindset for centuries, not fading with time, but hungrily increasing as the resources that feed this hunger steadily dwindle. Our America today is filled with blindness, arrogance, and greed. As we advance technologically, intellectually, and socially, we forget to readjust ourselves and our system to the new environment we have created. These strides add only to our sense of pride, while many essentially key goals (such as morale, equality, preservation) become confused as we strive towards our constantly rising standards of success.
Our America basks in the glow of its reputation: a nation of freedom, equality, diversity, and economic success. Since the start of the nation, we have progressed along a difficult path. Although through this course we have ridden over many bumps, we choose to remember the positive, proud, and inspiring aspects of our history and of the present. America portrays itself as “the golden land of opportunity.” How could it not be? Four percent of the world’s population controls a much larger share of the world’s riches. Furthermore, most of our reputation’s ideals are true. Compared to the rest of the world, our America truly is one of the few places where freedom of thought, speech, religion, and equality is not just allowed, but enforced. It is ingrained into our original constitution since our beginnings. This differentiates our America from most of the world.
My personal America, however, diverges from this objective and idealistic view of “our” America. In my world today, I have a sense of freedom, compassion, and equality. However, hidden within these beliefs are the inherent injustices that would taint the proud image of the country and sometimes break down our prosperous system if they did not exist.
Ethnic groups and immigrants coming into the country are perhaps heard but never consistently aided. The differences and barriers within race, religion, and economic class persist as mostly unrecognized discriminations within our community. If asked straight out, any American would assert that a homeless person, an Indian woman, and a Caucasian male, are not unequal (who would want to be considered racist?). The average American is convinced that he/she is completely free of racism. However, ethnic stereotypes and class discrimination persist and, more dangerously, exist unnoticed as such. For example, Asians continue to be unconsciously considered by many as “cute,” physically similar, lacking personalities, or thickheaded. There has yet to be an Asian actor that has not been portrayed by their ethnicity or sometimes even without the corresponding accent (such as the “Kung Fu” tradition of Jackie Chan, Jet Li,…etc.). According to the government, all diversities and races have been grouped into the all-encompassing “Ethnoracial Pentagon.” This system forces dozens of different diversities, some which do not have many similarities, into one general category of the five: Native Americans, European Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Pacific Americans. It is no longer an issue of whether or not people consider different races unequal, but whether they consider them different at all – for in these differences, rising barricades between races are created.
Beyond race, the economic differences within the nation create an invisible hierarchy of success. Both the Microsoft millionaire and the Safeway cashier would state, “I am middle class.” However, the cashier has a more limited lifestyle and less social stature in today’s financially focused society. Furthermore, the homeless have little to no part in the economy of the country and so their problems can be increasingly ignored; [and] as the government becomes progressively more indifferent to those voices that cannot be heard, so do the people.
Lastly, I perceive an inherent flaw within our rapidly increasing population and the resulting disastrous environmental effects. While other countries cannot afford this, Americans have the luxury to be “comfortable”: for the most part, we can feed ourselves and our children, keep a roof above our heads, and have little worries about our health. Therefore we also have the luxury and time to become more aware of the problems within in the world and arrogantly try to fix these problems without realizing that others are not “comfortable.” For example, while we tell other countries to stop destroying their rainforest, (to keep ourselves from the environmental consequences of a decreasing rainforest), their primary concern is to keep their people fed and healthy. The base of this problem exists in the problem of population growth. It is the basic reason for hunger, poverty, pollution, dwindling resources, and global warming. The blindness of our community in recognizing this factor perpetuates the problem further. As soon as we recognize this, we will be able to put away our unnecessary arrogance.
Although I mostly sound cynical and pessimistic in my view of Our America, I am taking advantage of many freedoms and opportunities I would not otherwise have if I did not live in America. I believe very strongly that there is hope to fixing the inconsistencies embedded within our America. It can never become perfect, nor should it; it can only become more fair. As long as people open their minds and increase their awareness of the environment around them, there is always hope. Recognition is the first step to Change.