Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow citizens!
I have to say that throughout my travels abroad, it was always interesting to state that I was an "American". (I know, there are other Americans too - South and Central Americans and others in Northern America - but for practical purposes, I'll just use the term "American" for "United Statesans"). For, you never knew the reaction you might get.
Americans, as we know, in some parts of the world, are not very accepted. Also, just as with other countries, there are many stereotypes about Americans. However, I never once denied where I was from and I was happy and proud to say where I was from because, if anything, I thought that I could debunk the myths about Americans and their knowledge and willingness to travel the rest of the world.
Throughout my travels, I had many people tell me, "You don't seem American." I didn't know what this meant so I would ask. Frequently, the fact that most Americans don't travel much was pointed out to me. To this, I was able to remind people that most Americans pay massive amounts to get an education (unlike people from most other industrialized countries). Starting out your early adulthood with $40K+ in debt is no easy fact to swallow. Thus, many Americans, don't have the funds like other people from other countries to roam the world. People would often say, "Oh, yeah." Realizing that this fact hadn't occurred to them and from the start, many young Americans have a bit more on their plate in terms of financial stress.
One thing, however, that I did learn and was able to appreciate, is that as an American, we have the right to openly state our dislike for our country or its actions. I can be a proud American and still dislike the actions of my government or its politicians. I can openly state that and strike in public if I feel that way. I can also read books that opine that the actions of my American country are incorrect. Not all countries and citizens can say that. Are Americans censored to some degree? Yes, just like people in most countries. Is our news skewed to how the government or certain parties would like it to be seen? Yes. But guess what, I have the ability and resources to go beyond our news sources and seek out other information. Not everyone does.
Has some awful things come out of my country? Most certainly. The industrialization of war, mass production, mass consumption, and so many other things that have plighted the minds of many Americans and have instilled in us the desire to always want something more, something better. With that said, that drive and those businesses that provide for mass consumption have also provided me with liberties. Technology that wouldn't have otherwise been discovered. As how I sometimes felt about my citizenship, it's a double-edged sword.
One thing I am certain of is this: I am proud to be an American because I can write this blog, voice my opinions and be heard. I do not agree with everything that my country does (and really, who does?) but I can state that and take action to change things in my country. Yes, when things happen that I don't agree with, I could choose to move to Canada, but why would I? The real truth of being an American is staying here and fighting for what you believe. Change doesn't happy from overseas, it happens from within. I can choose to participate in the things I believe in just as well as I can choose to not take part in those things and hopefully as my citizens join me, we can make change.
For this simple fact alone, I am happy to be an American. I am happy for the freedoms provided to my by my forefathers who fought bloody battles to ensure that I could be here today, writing you all about my country and the things I like, dislike and the way that I can change them.
So, I will say it loud and clear, "Yes, I am an American."
Happy Independence Day!