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.