Is America really the land of the free?
It is becoming painfully obvious that 2022 America is not even remotely close to what our founding fathers wanted it to be, or is it? We as a nation were said to embrace immigrants from all countries, backgrounds, and religions. We would clothe them, educate them, help them find a job and housing, and set them on the path to become a free and successful American. We welcomed them all without discrimination.
But I think if you know anything about the blood and tear-soaked American history, you will know that to be false. It has always been a façade.
The Cost of Freedom
The Declaration of Independence states, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Let’s talk about that quote. Today, we have Americans that are born here that are oppressed and belittled by society. We have religious groups forcing their beliefs on folks of different religions in a government setting. The pursuit of happiness is just about dead. It has been replaced with the “pursuit of not becoming homeless,” or maybe it’s been changed to the “pursuit of being able to scrape by.”
We have gone downhill as a nation and that ball was already rolling regardless of our crooked and poisonous government. Where can we go from here?
The American Dream
The original “American Dream” was not a dream of individual wealth; it was a dream of equality, justice, and democracy for the nation. Over time it has taken on a self-sufficient and individualistic tone. Being a millionaire was once thought to be harmful to the American Dream because it promoted inequality, whereas, equality was the foundation of the American Dream.
In the 1950s, the American Dream took on a different meaning; it was based on commercialism and the concept of what one must have in order to feel satisfied that they had made it to the American Dream. Now, we don’t care about the white picket fence so much because we cannot afford to survive.
Rent is high everywhere and almost unattainable for anyone making less than $100k a year. It is very hard to support a family with paychecks that come with a mighty 25% income tax rate. We are on Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, and begging for items we can’t afford so our families can scrape by until the next paycheck.
A Broken System
In the decade since September 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this is the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens.
“The policy of American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1787. The government is capable of searching and detaining us if we are suspected to be any part of terrorism. They can also ship us off to another country that embraces torture as a means of justice. That is not “liberty and justice for all.”
We are a nation that wants to force everyone in our country to respect and stand for the Pledge of Allegiance—which was changed in 1954 by President Eisenhower, who encouraged Congress to add “under God” in response to the Communist threat of the time. Religion suddenly became part of being free and living in our country despite the Bill of Rights advocating for religious freedom.
What about open doors for everyone and acceptance of all cultures, religions, and lifestyles? For a free country, we sure judge others harshly if they don’t add up to our definition of an American.
We, as a nation, need to remember what’s important for our children and for their children’s children. We are all so busy fighting each other that we aren’t looking for a solution to this madness. We have put the American Dream away completely and are so fixated on politics that we seem to have forgotten that our children will be adults one day, and they could be in worse shape than we are currently in. That isn’t a free country. That is not equality and acceptance. This country has 73 million children to raise, and it isn’t doing a good job.
Maybe the American Dream is dead, but our children are hanging on and deserve a better existence. Here are just a few examples of the things our children are dealing with:
- Nearly 1 in 7 children—10.5 million—were poor in 2019. Nearly 71 percent of poor children were children of color. More than 1 in 4 Black children and more than 1 in 5 Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children were poor compared with 1 in 12 white children.
- The youngest children are the poorest. Nearly 1 in 6 children under 6 were poor and almost half lived in extreme poverty.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helped feed 17 million children in the Fiscal Year 2018—nearly a quarter of all children in America.
- The amount of $4 per person per day that SNAP provides is still a poverty level and leaves many children hungry.
- These are also children who are not insured and, if they are, it’s through Medicaid. Not all services are covered by Medicaid, and there is a stigma around using it.
- Black children were 2.4 times more likely to be arrested and American Indian children were 1.5 times more likely to be arrested than white children.
- Gun violence was the leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19 in 2018, surpassing motor vehicle accidents for the first time. (I’m sure this will be much worse this year in 2022.)
- Despite a 67 percent reduction in child arrests between 2009 and 2019, 530,581 children were arrested in the U.S., and a child or teen was arrested every 59 seconds.
We Can Be Better
This country is still capable of being a wonderful place that opens its doors to everyone despite their culture, home country, nationality, race, and beliefs, but we have a long way to go. Power has always been with the people. There has always been more of us than the government. We are standing up to gun violence in schools, poverty, our crooked government, and the even worse cult-like supporters that have completely lost sight of why they are angry.
We all need to be held accountable. Resources are out there for those that need it, to some degree, but we aren’t doing this right. We need to be the change. Stop focusing on singular people or political affiliations and wake up. Do what’s right and stand up for those without a voice. I will keep fighting, and I hope you will, too.