First, let me preface this by saying that I understand I am writing this from a place of privilege. I am a white male in a predominantly white-run country where by virtue of only the color of my skin, I don’t have to deal with a lot of bias and ill-treatment that others have to. But at the same time, this is my country and my responsibility to help wherever I can. That’s what good soldiers do, we take care of our own. And EVERY American is one of my own. I have always been a soldier, but the real time is over 20 years that I served. I served in hostile fire zones and foreign countries, alongside all different races, religions, genders and colors of skin. I believed that we were a great country, a great nation, and a great people. But now I see the truth.
Let’s “Make America Great Again”; that was the rally call of a nation, well, part of a nation. And it seems to be the part of this nation we can do without. Racists, sexists, misogynistic, ignorant, and just downright cruel. “Make America Great Again” really? That is going to be the phrase that America dies to? Really? Since when has America been great? When? I wish I could say that we have always been a great nation, full of compassion, love for our fellow man, and fair and equitable treatment of all, but I can’t. It seems my entire life has been a lie and I bought in on the lie. “All men were created equal,” but what you don’t hear, what I didn’t hear is “but some are more equal than others.”
I want to know how we are a great country. Are we great because we have always treated our citizens fairly, with respect, with no consideration for race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or appearance? Oh wait, nope it can’t be that. Let’s start with the imprisonment of thousands of Americans just because they had Japanese heritage during WWII.
Oh, I know, it must be before then, when we treated all neighborhoods the same regardless of who lived there, who worked hard to make it a home, or who built the businesses there. Those communities where you can tell the people really take pride in what they have done to accomplish their dreams. Oh wait, it can’t be that either, an ENTIRE community was burned down because it was established, funded, and organized by black Americans. People who invested their entire lives in this community and it was gone in one fell swoop. It is horrible to think that we considered that to be a great example of America.
I know it must be because we have ALWAYS treated everyone who has shown us kindness and compassion with the utmost of respect and gratitude. Oh wait, it can’t be that either. Because when the natives greeted the people of Europe who arrived in the “new world” with open arms, it seems to me that we have done nothing but take from them… “Discovering” the land and then taking it. We gave them gifts: big gifts, small gifts, amazing gifts, ask anybody, we gave the best gifts, tobacco, alcohol, and blankets… ohhhh, wait those blankets were infected with smallpox – oops. I know, I know, it had to be that after we forced them into conflict and then forced them to live on small parcels of land (that we killed them for), in peace and unfettered by others laws and customs…. DAMN! I can’t say that either… Wounded Knee. More than 150 Natives were slaughtered by the US Army on a reservation, 500 armed soldiers massacred over 150 Natives, more than half of which were WOMEN and CHILDREN.
Ask yourself: Have we changed? As a nation, do we do better by our people? Let’s ask the families of Flint Michigan if we have demonstrated concern for our neighborhoods. Is that an isolated incident? Of course, it isn’t. Look at how we are still treating the natives. Look at Standing Rock. Is that the best we can do, or are we still taking from a people who have already lost so much?
How about those people that have come to our country in hopes of finding a better, safer life? Trying to better themselves here, because we tell everyone how great it is to be American. And let’s look at our LGBT communities, how long is it going to be until they are safe? What about our sisters, mother, and daughters? How long is it going to take until they are treated as equals to men? It is harder and harder every day to wake up and see the hate we heap on each other and realize that we aren’t getting better. We have not learned from the past.
Are these the acts that “Make America Great Again”? Because if this is what great looks like, then I don’t know what hope we have. How can we possibly tell other nations that we are the epitome of freedom and liberty? We can’t even treat each other with basic human rights! This country has been manipulated by the privileged for far too long. And we the people, all of us, need to stand together, to show that we know what it is like to bleed together so that everyone, EVERY ONE of us, is finally treated like they matter. That their life, health, education, and safety mean as much to their neighbors as their neighbors mean to them. Until the day that we are all truly equal, we will never be great.