Within the next two weeks, people across America will hear or witness fireworks in preparation for the nationwide finale, the fourth of July. In fairness to those who have worked tirelessly throughout the worldwide pandemic, we as a nation owe it to them to give them a night of vibrant colors and a few moments of peace. However, as a nation itself, we may not be deserving of the same.
America has suffered six months filled with hate, fear, and unjust actions in such a short amount of time. We started the year with a virus that spread with no discrimination in it’s eyes, affecting the healthy, young, and elderly folk. It saw no boundaries, going wherever the distance it's carrier traveled. Our government shut down the country, leaving unemployment phone lines forever ringing, and our healthcare workers reaching their breaking point that they prayed that they would never reach. Social media blossomed a secondary fear, that one who ventured into the society they once went through daily life in, was somebody who was selfish for putting others at risk. We went from laughing and making quick/somewhat awkward conversations with strangers, to a society that only interacted when needed too.
We watched the USS Theodore Roosevelt quickly become infested with the virus. Their Commanding Officer, Captain Crozier, was relieved because he made a judgement and request that in the end, resulted in thousands of lives saved. He quickly and efficiently ported his ship in Guam, unloaded his sailors and safely quarantined them in hotels throughout the island. However, our government failed him, his sailors, and the entire U.S Navy by denying his reinstatement back to his ship.
We watched the brutal, heartbreaking, and unjust murder of George Floyd. We watched a group of citizens gather in protest, and ultimately burn down parts of their city. American's alike across the country repeated their actions, leading to a few new laws and a harder press on the law enforcement community to redefine their ways of handling situations, and to extensively change their training protocols.
However, this year we have to question if we deserve to celebrate freedom. Across every form of social media, we saw people fight for an additional toilet paper package to add to their hoard. We watched people bravely walk into supermarkets, just to be bombarded with questions to why they aren't "Staying Home for enter-state-here". We watched businesses being burned down, whose owner spent their entire life working for. We have watched countless police officer's, deputy sheriff's, and other forms of law enforcement use TikTok to show the humane side of their profession, begging those who are against them as a whole, that they are not like their former officer who murdered George Floyd.
This isn't freedom- this is full blown hatred.
One who states on Facebook that they support the police department, one who hasn't had any wrongdoings, is ultimately shunned by those who don't feel the same. Somebody who goes and tries to buy toilet paper during the virus and is in dire need can't because somebody else has let their fear take over. A police officer who joined to truly serve and protect the community, with no racial filter in his eyes, is automatically judged as a racist "pig" and "deserves nothing", when instead he would give everything when the time calls.
Freedom would be to understand that people will go out into the world if they feel comfortable, and to stay home if they don't. It would lead to the prosecution of the police officers who committed unjust crimes, while understanding that there are those who wear the uniform with pride. Freedom would be getting rid of "racial" or "ethnic" background questions on college applications, making every citizen equal in the eyes of the school, basing admission on factors that can be controlled. There would be education in schools about days of remembrance such as Juneteenth, since it was a major day in the freedom and new life of African-Americans, even if it portrayed America as a country that was lacking empathy at the time. Freedom would lead to having civilized conversations with someone you disagree with, hoping that your points would be strong enough to educate the receiving person. If we were a practicing free country, we wouldn't expel hate towards those who disagree with us, regarding anything for that matter. For example, this article has been sitting on my shoulders for an extensive amount of time, due to the fear of reprisal of those who may disagree with what I have to say. Many people feel the same, that they can't express their first amendment right gracefully, without worrying about what may happen if someone has opposing views.
America has a pretty unstable background. We are a melting pot of cultures, races, views, and religions. The "melting pot" idea is something that American's use to explain how accepting of a country we are. But, how are we when there are still judgements based off of physical attributes that some have no control over? American's should be able to walk down the street and be seen as just that- an American. We should have dropped racial, religious, and appearance judgements long ago. While we can't change the past, we can change our future. We have control of our destiny. We have the power for our neighbors young child to never hide behind his parent's vehicle while he's playing basketball in his own front yard. We have the power to provide a better future for the following generations. But while we are in the process of becoming a better country, we should remember the single value that American's, and those who come to America long for- Freedom. Opinions should be shared, I could even say that they should be welcomed, with the intent to gracefully provide a new insight or outlook on a topic. Like many have stated, education is inherently necessary for change. However in order for education, a listening ear is needed- on both ends of the fights we have all been fighting.
The generations that come after us deserve to live a life that uses divisional racial terms (black, middle-eastern, white) sparingly, while becoming truthfully educated on the cultural backgrounds of each. They deserve to be seen as equal, and only fearful of the law if they have acted against it. They deserve to become police officers, and to be seen as protectors and one someone can turn too in a time of need. They deserve to live out the lives they dream of. It is time that we provide them the life of freedom that America has promised for the past 244 years.