Today is the 4th of July, or otherwise known as Independence Day. A day where our country can rejoice and celebrate all the freedoms it has to offer. Not that anyone from any other country would understand that, if they spent just a few hours reading some of the Facebook news feeds of some of the citizens of this country.
In 1776, America claimed its independence over Britain, and Democracy was born. The most famous line from the Declaration of Independence reads...
"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."
And, I have to admit, that when I read that line I feel a little sad. Because even though we live in the country that promotes Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, when I turn on the TV or read through the headlines I see nothing but people complaining about their rights, freedom, and life being controlled and dominated by either government or religion.
Complaint after complaint after complaint is all I ever seem to read about. And if it's not complaints, it's one side versus the other side about which rights and freedoms should be or are being corrupted.
"Take away all guns"
"Don't take away our constitutional right to own guns"
"Gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry, it's against the Bible"
"Gay people should be allowed to marry, because this decision shouldn't be based on religion"
"Companies and their owners should be free to run their businesses as they see fit"
"Companies and their owners should not be allowed to include religious beliefs in their company practices"
"Government should not be allowed to impose healthcare on its citizens"
"The government is providing affordable healthcare so that all people have access to medical care."
And on, and on, and on it goes.
It's very depressing, really. Yet, all these complaints and whining and non-stop bombardment of opinions proves to us one thing:
We have the RIGHT to complain.
Regardless of what side of the table you sit, each and every person has the right to agree and disagree with whatever the hot topic of discussion is that particular day, and broadcast said opinions to the whole world via social media. And it's one right that SO MANY people choose to publicize.
Is our country perfect? Absolutely not. But, it sure would be nice if everyone, at least today, stepped back and realized how good they actually have it.
My story is one that's as old as this country itself.
Twenty years ago, my parents loaded me up on a plane and took me away from my home, my extended family, and my friends to pursue "The American Dream".
No, life wasn't horrible for us back in England, but moving to America was a new start. A fresh start. One that would grant us more freedoms, a better life.
Now, I was one of the lucky ones. Having a mother that was already an American citizen helped. I didn't come to this country as an illegal, I came with the full rights bestowed on citizens, thanks to my mother's birth. Some of my extended family are not so lucky, and have been waiting 15+ years to have the opportunity to move here. But, that's a different story for a different time.
I don't have some horrible back story to share about how I lived the life of poverty, and moving to America was away to live the American dream of a fresh start and new horizons. But, in my twenty years here there are a lot of points I can make... points that make me 110% sure that I'd never move back to England or to any other country, if given the chance.
I am, now, a 32 year old woman. A mother to three children. I am not married. (In some countries, those points, alone, would be enough to get me locked up.) I went to college and I'm a teacher. I am buying my own house. I am paying for a car, two actually. All of those things are now possible because I spent several years getting government assistance until I was finished with college, and employed with a pay that could support my family.
I am over $175,000 in debt thanks to a mortgage, car payments, and student loans, yet I am living comfortably, and that debt is not lingering over my head. It is apart of the American Dream. All my bills are paid, on time, and I even pay more than what is owed each month to help carve it away faster.
All three of my children are free to go to school each and every day. They have the right to a good education. They have the choice to continue that education and pursue a career of their choosing.
My family is free to attend any church, mosque, temple, or place of worship we want to. We also have the right to attend none of them.
I have the right to spend money with whatever companies I want, and avoid those I don't like.
I have the right to get up each morning and spend the day wearing whatever clothes I deem to be appropriate, even if others disagree. I have the right to cut my hair, color my hair, apply make-up, and trim and wax any hair that I don't find to be "attractive".
If I am sick or injured, I can walk in to any hospital and receive medical treatment. Will I walk away with a bill? Sure. But, my insurance also provides me the piece of mind that the bill will only be about 30% of what it could be.
Now, am I allowed to do all these things if I lived in England? Yep. But, I could list off several countries that don't give those same freedoms. Take a second and think about it, I bet you could come up with a few.
Now, again, this country isn't perfect. There are far too many people in this country that are unemployed. There are far too many homeless people. There are far too many kids being abused, adults, too, for that matter. There are far too many people living off of government assistance and reaping benefits that they shouldn't be reaping.
But, if you are sitting at home, on your computer or smartphone or tablet, reading this blog post, I'm sure you can come up with some positive things to say about the country you live in. The good you have in your life. The freedoms that you are allowed to pursue.
Especially if you are one of those people that make post after post after post on Facebook about the injustices that are forced on to the people of this country.
Let me enlighten you with my opinions on those stories you so love to share with the world...
Guns kill people. But, they need a person pulling the trigger to make it happen. Outlawing guns will only take guns away from those legal to carry, and put more power in to those that aren't legal to carry.
Women's rights are not being continuously taken away. Women, like myself, are working, making their own decisions, having as many children as they deem fit, have access to drugs that can prevent pregnancy, are voting, and are spending WAY too much time on Facebook complaining about their rights being taken away.
America is a melting pot of cultures and religions. If you don't like the color of the skin of your neighbor or co-worker, then you're in the wrong place. Same thing if you don't agree with the religious beliefs of your neighbor. But, don't worry, you still have the right to make those points known... even though it's ridiculous.
Religion has no place in the laws that control this country. If a man chooses to marry a man, or a woman chooses to marry a woman, a Christian principle should NOT control that right. There is not a non religious argument out there that can't stand toe to toe with heterosexual couples to prevent this right. Heterosexuals cheat, divorce, and many can't produce children. Heterosexuals can't explain how or why they fell in love with their partner. It just happened. They felt a connection. And no amount of brainwashing or "cures" are out there to help heterosexuals from loving people of the opposite sex, so why would there be one to stop homosexuals from loving the same sex?
But, again, my opinions. My right to express those opinions. On THIS day, Independence Day. The day that I'm free to do so.... oh wait, I'm free to do so any day.
So, instead of continuing the constant bickering over rights, religion, and freedoms, how about we celebrate this day thanking our lucky stars we have them? Any of them. All of them.
Because, at the end of the day, you should be thankful for everything you have in your life. You could live in a country that offers you none of those things.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE!!