Originally written 9/10/09
I’m sorry this is going to be long, but I have to get it out. And even though it’s in regards to the President’s speech tonight, I didn’t want to clutter up the other thread with my rant. Thank you for your patience and understanding. ~~
I watched a documentary not too long ago about a woman who left her home country with her husband and 4 children to come to America. They’d been in America less than a month when every member of her family was killed because of their skin tone and religion. And yet, when asked if she regretted making the trip, she floored me with, “I will never, ever regret that.”
I thought about that for a little while and as her words sunk in, I started sobbing. Here’s this woman who has no money, no home, no safety net, and no more family, saying that she didn’t regret the move because America is still the land of opportunity. There are thousands who leave their homes and family to come to America for a better life—every day. But even though I’m an American citizen, there are times I wonder why.
What kind of country are we? Who the hell are we? We legislate our religion, ignore our own backyard in order to fix the problems of other countries, and we fail to provide even the most basic rights to some minorities. We are the richest nation with the poorest reputation. The rest of the world considers us bullies. Hell, the way we treat each other, I can’t blame them!
We are the land of opportunity for everyone but our own citizens. My mother can’t get SSI Disability benefits (even though she’s got major health issues) because Alabama is “overburdened” with claims that are “more pressing” than hers. There are prisoners who get more to eat than some of the kids who go to school in my hometown.
We are the biggest nation with the smallest regard for equality. The very fabric of our existence is based on division….Democrat or Republican. And yet, we’re appalled when people don’t “stick together” unless something horrific happens.
Today is September 10. And as I sit here writing this, I have tears in my eyes and some are rolling off my cheeks. I wonder sometimes what the victims of 9/11 think of how we’ve handled ourselves since that day. We bicker over the most mundane things, but refuse to discuss real issues. We disagree on how things should go so fervently, nothing gets done. We pour countless dollars, time, and attention to things that just alleviate symptoms of a bigger, underlying disease. It’s almost disgraceful.
There is a child dying right now of starvation. There’s a family going without water. Someone’s asleep in a refrigerator box. There are rapes, murders, and drug deals happening right now. But we must put those issues off because we have to make sure Iraq can live without us. Did it ever occur to the government or military that by the time we leave their country, Iraqis might have better lives than hundreds of thousands of Americans?
I ache inside because there are days when it hits me that I love my country… but my country and some of its citizens don’t respect me. I’m a cancer survivor who doesn’t have the money or the health insurance to make sure I remain cancer-free (and even if I could afford health insurance, I couldn’t get it because cancer is a preexisting condition). I am immediately excluded from getting a job in my hometown because everyone here knows I’m gay. My car was scratched, my yard was drizzled with bleach, and I had to do away with my home phone because of people who “hate dykes” calling at all hours of the night to threaten my life (home, animals, family, etc.).
Who are we? Why do we feel we have the right to determine who is worthy of marriage and who’s not? Why do we assume we can throw our weight around and get things done elsewhere, only to come home with blinders on so we can’t see our own problems? Why do we need to play policeman for the rest of the world? Why don’t I deserve to marry the person I love? Why can’t my brother get treatment for his Congestive Heart Failure in spite of the fact that he can’t pay?
Why do we hate so much and love so little? Why do we turn our backs on each other? Why does it take something horrific for us to fly the flag, cry for and with each other, or fill our hearts with pride?
We are better than this. We are Americans, god damn it! “Be the change you want to see.” We want every other country to adopt the democratic government structure our country was founded on, using detailed, written guidelines left by our forefathers. It’s a good thing it’s written down because we seem to be a nation of “do as I say, not as I do”!! If we want other countries to imitate us, we need to be a mirror they can look to for guidance. We’ve forgotten that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.
Right now, I’m afraid of what they see in us. I am appalled, sickened, and broken by what they may see. But most of all, I’m ashamed. This country is great. But it could be so much better. And though I will never leave this country to live in another, I’m not 100% proud of us and what we’ve done to ourselves.
I’m actually envious of the woman I saw on that program. She answered with steadfast conviction. I’m jealous because, although I’d give the same answer, I just don’t know if my passion would match hers—and for that, I’m sorrowful. I should feel blessed, but there are times that I don’t and it hurts.
Who are we?
Better yet, who do we want to be?