Jessica Miller: We are America and we make it great
We live in trying times. This year has been incredibly hard for anyone who has access to the never-ending news cycle. We all carry on as our nation becomes more and more divided by the day. How do we celebrate our country, when we may not be feeling the most patriotic right now? It’s helpful to reflect on the contributions many great Americans have made every day.
When caught up in the whirlwind of American politics, it’s easy to forget that our president and our government are not America. We are America.
Women, who make up more than half of our country’s populace, who have stood by watching as the leader of our nation has objectified women as a fun pastime, who fight for each other’s reproductive rights and safety from sexual violence, who take to the streets to march in solidarity, who are challenging and changing the societal perceptions about women, are America.
Immigrants, many of whom support the backbone of the American working class, who came here in search of a new and better life, some of whom are currently locked away from their families simply for seeking asylum from violence, are America. In fact, immigrants are the only reason we can call this beautiful country our home in the first place.
African Americans, who have watched the contributions of their labor stolen, copied and made a mockery of by their white counterparts, whose ancestors were brought here against their will and still have risen up from the ashes of colonialism, who still to this day fight a system in which their friends and family are subjected to unfair societal treatment and brutality at the hands of police, are America.
Soldiers and veterans, who put their lives on the line for this great nation even while our leader antagonizes former POWs and Gold Star families, who offer their brains, blood and bodies for the cause of freedom, who are used as political tokens even as it demeans their selfless sacrifices, who are only given a handshake and a discount on dinner instead of the medical care and housing they deserve, are America.
The LGBTQ community, who have brought social awareness about gender, sexuality and personal identity into the mainstream, who have shown us that who we are is more important than outdated tradition, who suffer at the hands of those who do not understand them, who have died for the right to free expression, are America.
This country is made up of a beautiful variety of people from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Patriotism is a love of one’s country, not pride. And love is exactly what this country desperately needs right now.
Our nation has never been a flawless example, but even among the divisiveness, helping our fellow human has always been the priority. Reaching out to a neighbor in need, never judging or making assumptions based off of the superficial, and helping out because that’s the right thing to do is what our nation is about.
We live in trying times. So this Fourth of July, hug your loved ones, enjoy the festivities, eat a burger on top of a hot dog on top of another burger. But don’t forget where we all come from, whether you’re white, black, Muslim, feminist, Christian, male, female, non-binary, Hindu, Buddhist, Hispanic, Asian, disabled, able-bodied or atheist. We are the United States.
Try to unite with those who are willing to listen to your struggle. Try to unite people with your words and your actions. Remember that patriotism is love and not pride.
“Make America Great Again” couldn’t be a less patriotic thing to say, simply because it fundamentally misunderstands this singular truth about America: We have never been perfect, but we have always been great.
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