Dear America,

July 4 is approaching, which is one of the most, if not the most, patriotic days in this country. There will probably be laughter, drinking, family, barbecues, and fireworks, because that's how us Americans celebrate. But before we go and celebrate America, we should discuss a few things.

First off America, rape is not okay. It doesn't matter if it was the culprit's first offense or if they were drunk. How can we celebrate when children are being taught that this kind of behavior is acceptable in society? This issue is becoming more common and more dominant, especially in recent news, and before we cheer how great America is, let's do something about this. Stop blaming it on alcohol, stop saying the victim "asked for it," and stop pretending it's not an issue. Are we celebrating the lack of punishment rape culprits receive? Are we celebrating the fact that the amount of rape on college campuses have skyrocketed in recent years? Are we celebrating the fact that girls and guys walk around with this unnerving fear that a stranger or even friend may take advantage of them? I didn't think so.

Next, let's talk about these shootings. What the hell America? Here's a not so fun statistic, Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide. That's an issue. This is a difficult topic to talk about, I get that, but one thing is certain, too many people are dying at the hands of a gun. A gun doesn't point and shoot itself, this is on us. A parent shouldn't fear sending their child to school. No one should fear going out to a club or a public place. But how can they not when these types of shootings are happening every day? How can we celebrate knowing that someone had to bury a loved one because of a gun? It's time to do something instead of sitting here silent, waiting for the next tragedy to strike. Actions speak louder than words, so lets act.

Still with me? Okay, good. Let's talk about accepting one another for a moment. Who cares if someone is gay, bi, asexual or straight? When did labels become more important than happiness? It doesn't change who they are as a person so it shouldn't change you. It's their story to tell and who are you to tell them that how they feel and their choices are wrong? It's time to stop judging one another. No one should die because of who they love, think about it, does that make any sense? Love and death don't belong in the same sentence. We need to celebrate love and happiness, no matter what shape or size or form it comes in. Love is something that should bring us together, not drive us apart.

Speaking of judging others, America, how can we judge someone by the religion they practice, their sexual orientation, gender, a disability, or color of their skin? Or where they came from? Just in case you forgot, none of us have control over any of these things. This is the 21st century haven't we learned that? Our country is rooted from different cultures and backgrounds. What makes one way of life better than the next? We all belong here and deserve the same amount of respect as one another. No one holds the right to judge someone by anything other than their character, because nothing else should matter. Without the diversity, America wouldn't be America. We should be celebrating that rather than discriminating.

Lets talk about cyberbullying quickly. The Internet is the best and worst thing to happen to this world, and this isn't just an issue in America, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't do something about it. It's easy to be someone else behind a computer screen because you can be anyone, and although this can create heroes, it can also create villains. It's never okay to put someone down in order to build yourself up no matter who you are. Maybe you know this person or maybe they're just another stranger on the Internet, but either way you have no right to hurt them just because you can or because they don't agree with you. The Internet is forever -- think before you hit send.

It's okay that we're not perfect, no one ever is, but instead of accepting these faults, we can change and make America better. We can grow as a country and grow together.

America is a strong, independent leader. It's a place where people can have an equal say and exercise their rights and speak their mind. These are things, along with much more, worth celebrating. There may be darkness, but together we can make sure we don't let it suffocate us, and instead create a light.

If we have the ability to make America a safer and accepting place for future generations, why wouldn't we?

That being said, don't forget to have fun too. Laugh too loud, love too hard, and dance when there isn't any music. America is built on the idea of freedom and being different, and although we may have lost sight of that, together we can find it.

This Fourth of July, celebrate America. Celebrate your friends and family. Celebrate the hope for the future.

Sincerely,

An American who's done saying "we should've done something."