Here's How You Take Your Freedom Of Speech For Granted

Here's How You Take Your Freedom Of Speech For Granted

"We are all human, we are all equal. I wish that more of the world would be able to understand this basic ideology in the future."

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A shocking notification hit my phone early this morning reading along the lines of, "Reporter arrested in the Philippines for running a news outlet criticizing the president."My heart sunk for a multitude of reasons. At first, I was completely shocked. I never realized that freedom of speech was not extended to the Philippine citizens. This also affected me because of my passion for writing. I can not imagine living in a country where I could not freely and openly meditate on politics.

I also realized just how much Americans take our freedom of speech for granted. Every time I post an article about politics and critique the government, I never even think twice about it. I never have to look over my shoulder or worry about being thrown into prison. This piqued my curiosity even further and I decided to watch a Vice documentary on North Korea. Of course, this is the most extreme part of the spectrum in terms of human rights and freedom. However, it made me appreciate being an American more than I have in a while.

Most of us never take the time to be grateful for the rights that we are given. Most Americans do not even take the time to realize why we have these freedoms. Coming from an extremely military background, I am constantly reminded of how men and women choose to leave their families and homes to fight for our rights against opposing forces who may want to take them away. For many people that I have spoken to about this subject live their lives without even thinking about all of the people in danger to keep us safe.

Learning more about North Korea, I was so deeply moved at how lucky our country is to be free. We have the option to do anything, be anyone, and say anything that we please. These are rights that some people can only secretly dream of. I would likely lose my mind if I was raised in a country without these rights that we see as basic. Living in the United States is pretty much a Utopia for so many other people. We, as American citizens, are extremely lucky to be able to go out and live our free lives every day.

I will no longer take these rights for granted. It is so important to talk about your beliefs and share them with others. No one should ever have to remain silent or withhold their feelings. My dream is that one day everyone can enjoy the same rights that we do in the United States. I hope one day that little girls in third world countries can become writers, philosophers, and artists who can eventually criticize and critique their world without major repercussions. My heart sincerely goes out to everyone that has these rights taken away from them. We are all human, we are all equal. I wish that more of the world would be able to understand this basic ideology in the future.

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

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Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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Our Leaders Need A 'Time-Out'

We all learned a few essential rules as children.

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As I look watch the news, I can't help but wonder if the lessons we learned as children might not serve our leaders well. They seem to have forgotten these basic lessons. I am reminded of the book by Robert Fulghum "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

Watch out, hold hands, and stick together.

I think this could be useful in a couple of different contexts. First, the current divisiveness in the country doesn't serve us well. We are first and foremost, a part of the family of humankind. Differences in politics, religion, and so on come in far behind that one important attribute. What happened to the notion of agreeing to disagree?

Second, when leaders get off a plane in another country, they should remember who they came with and who they represent - "watch out, hold hands, and stick together."

Clean up your own mess.

Trump seems to take great pleasure in blaming everyone else for their "mess." The government shutdown was someone else's fault – any Democrat. When the stock market went up, he happily took credit, but when it went down, he quickly shifted gears and placed the blame on the Federal Reserve Chairman. Daily and hourly tweets out of the White House place blame on someone else for his "mess." Sadly, he still likes to blame Obama and Hillary for his mess.

Don't lie.

Politicians have always had a bad reputation when it comes to honesty. Still, the number of lies that we hear from Trump (and members of his staff) is unprecedented even for a politician.

We all learned these lessons when we were little more than five years old. Now more than any time in history I think our leaders need a " time out" to re-learn these lessons.

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